An Angry Itch: Skin Symptoms and Hepatitis C
Last updated: June 2023
Chances are that if you have ever lived with hep C, you know what I am saying when I refer to an itch (and not just some annoying little nose itch that everyone gets, regardless of their hep C status). I’ll share a few of my own experiences here, and my guess is that at least for some of you reading this, it is all too familiar indeed.
My experience with sensitive skin
For context purposes, I think it is worthwhile to share that all my life, I have had what could be called "sensitive skin". Maybe due to my DNA/ancestry or some other thing, but as a child, long before hep C, I was that kid with freckles like crazy, and if I ever got into something that could cause a rash, my skin exploded with itchiness and soon after it was hives. I recall one episode when I got into some poison oak and I asked my mom, who was a nurse, to tie my hands so I wouldn’t scratch myself raw. If there was an itch to have, I got it, and it remains much the same even now 10 years after being cured of hep C. I cannot use scented anything on my skin without consequences, and I have attacks of itching that are, at times, almost unbearable.
Hepatitis C can cause skin symptoms
As I said, if you have hep C experience, you probably have experienced skin irritation at some time. I hope that it is resolved for you, with a cure, but understand that many of us will have ongoing problems. Without listing all the reasons why, it suffices to say that there are changes that occur as a result of irritation of the liver that can cause a list of skin conditions. Others may choose to dive into their names and the mechanics of why this happens, but regardless of the science, they are annoying and at their worst can be indicative of worsening liver function, which is never good news.
Itching caused by older hepatitis C treatments
My own worst experience was while treating with interferon, and I suspect it was one of the side effects for me because of the ribavirin or the interferon, but was probably exacerbated by some of the rescue meds I took as well. It was a cocktail of drugs and in combination with the hep C were causing me to have terrible skin irritation. I remember referring to the state of my back, jokingly, as a really bad pepperoni pizza because of the appearance. It was bad, and it was not restricted to my back.
There are some remedies, and I heard and read them all, and to be honest, at least for me, there was limited relief to be found. Fast forward to now, with no hep C, cured 10 years, and yes, I have episodes and I cannot tell you why, except that something causes me to have bouts of serious itchiness. It can keep me awake with no sleep and drives me mad! Angry! I hope you found something that helps you if you share in this experience, and best of all, that you have nothing that makes you angry itchy!