Itching, Itching, Scratching…

By chance, cleaning through my unread emails, I stumbled across notes and pictures for a post I had planned for nearly a year ago and for some reason never published. It struck me that it could very nearly have been something I wrote just this week. There wasn’t much written, just two rough paragraphs, but it did come with a nice collection of pictures. Here is what would have been, from November 4th, 2017:

Side Effects Have Me Scratching My Head

There’s no doubt that dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment can be perplexing. Patients deal with everything from digestive issues to pain to total hair loss to fatigue to stiff joints.

Over the last 3 years, I’ve had my share of issues and adaptations. Sometimes, alleviating a side effect proves relatively simple: take a pill, stop taking a pill, wear compression socks, change diet, wear a hat, take another pill, just accept it as a new part of life… But my current side effect of note has me scratching my head. It Itches. Oh, it itches. And nothing seems to be able to make it stop.

That was then, this is now.

Looking back at the posts, notes, and pictures from my experience on afatinib (the first targeted drug in the EGFR TKI category that I had tried), the experience seems so quaint. I know it certainly did not feel that way back then, however.

Notice anything different about the hair? Much edgier in the current pics. I should probably have gone for this look years ago. After having spent a good deal of my morning harvesting a giant leaf of aloe vera and then slathering the juice and gel all over my arms, chest, and scalp, I am kind of excited about revisiting that rosemary infusion. I recall it feeling good when I rinsed my hair with it and I do like the scent. Maybe it will be another viable addition to my arsenal of things that seem to work for a few hours or less (like yesterday’s Aveeno bath, which would have worked longer if the water didn’t start getting cold).

2 thoughts on “Itching, Itching, Scratching…

  1. There are two things that I have always found very helpful in dealing with itches on various parts of my skin.

    The first is simply to spray or pad some rubbing alcohol onto the itch area . This is most effective if it is an area that has been scratched a fair amount already that there is some exposed underskin. The initial sensation will be a fairly strong stinging way even slightly burning sensation but it does not feel so bad because it is one that you are applying yourself and that you know will only last for 15 to 35 to 65 seconds . And after the sting is over the itching is gone !

    The second is simply to take a very cold ice compress from the freezer and lay that against the itching area and the surrounding skin for about one minute or even a little bit less . The extreme cold seems to deactivate the itching sensation and it does not seem to come back for at least a little while afterward .

    I hope maybe one of those things will help you a little bit .

    Keep on fighting!



    1. Thanks, Michael. I have tried the cold pack approach and have even created a special “hat” for myself that holds a flexible compress. It’s quite effective for an hour or two of relief. In fact, I think I am going to go grab it right now… The alcohol approach does not work so well for me, however — I have been forced to use it in various forms on a number of occasions. But does definitely have a place and I will say that using Clearasil pads on my face did offer a bit of temporary relief that I wasn’t expecting. I appreciate the suggestions! All the best, Jeffrey

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