Itchy Skin And Kidney Disease
Pruritus is the medical name to call itching. It is unpleasant, discomfort sensation that compels you to scratch the affected area. It may be the result of dermatitis or another condition like rash or psoriasis. It may also be a consequence of particular disease such as kidney problem or liver disease.
Causes of itchy skin
There are a number of different conditions that can contribute to cause itchy skin. The common causes include:
The problem can affect any area of the body. It can be localized or generalized. Localized means it occurs in particular areas of the body. Generalized means it affects over the whole body.
The affected area can be normal, dry, rough, or red. Sometimes it may also have blisters or bumps. This is dependent on the cause of the problem and how severe it is.
Many times, itchiness is a mild condition. But if it becomes chronic or acute, this may affect the quality of your life. For instance, chronic itching may interfere with the quality of your sleep. And lack of sleep is associated with a number of different conditions.
How common is itchy skin in kidney disease?
Itching all over or in particular areas of the body
Fatigue Being Tired All Of The Time
Why this happens:
Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin , or EPO, that tells your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, your muscles and brain tire very quickly. This is anemia, and it can be treated.
What patients said:
I was constantly exhausted and didn’t have any pep or anything.
I would sleep a lot. I’d come home from work and get right in that bed.
Burning Pain With Urination
If you want to get fancy, this is called dysuria, and its common in womens health issues like yeast infections and vaginal infections. Inflammation along the lining of the urethra can cause that sort of burning sensation when you go to the bathroom, says Leisman.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Acute Kidney Infection
Signs and symptoms vary with age:
- Newborns: no fever but poor feeding and vomiting
- Children < 2: may have a fever , a poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea
- Children > 2: fever, appetite changes, stomach or lower back pain, symptoms of urgency, frequency and pain with urination
If a toilet trained child is having accidents during the day or night, it may be a sign of an infection. Typically a childs urine will have a strong, foul odor, and there may be blood in the urine.
Kidney Disease: 11 Ways It Can Affect Your Skin
If you have kidney disease, you wont see early warning signs on your skin. However, as the disease progresses, you may develop one or more of the following:
Extremely dry skin. Skin can become so dry that it:
Itchy skin. Extremely itchy skin is a common symptom of advanced kidney disease. The itch can range from irritating to life-disrupting. Your skin may itch all the time.
Some people have itch on one area of their skin. The itch can also spread across most of your body.
Scratch marks and other signs of scratching. When you scratch often, it affects your skin. You can develop:
Color changes to your skin. When the kidneys stop working as they should, toxins build up in your body. This build-up can cause color changes to the skin. You may see any of the following:
Nail changes. Kidney disease can affect the appearance of your fingernails, toenails, or both. People who have advanced kidney disease can develop:
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When To Get Medical Advice
See your GP if you have persistent or worrying symptoms that you think could be caused by kidney disease.
The symptoms of kidney disease can be caused by many less serious conditions, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis.
If you do have CKD, it’s best to get it diagnosed as soon as possible. Kidney disease can be diagnosed by having blood and urine tests.
Find out more about how CKD is diagnosed.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2019 Next review due: 29 August 2022
Why Does Kidney Disease Cause Weight Gain
Kidney disease doesnt just affect the kidneys, it affects the whole body. In the early stages, it can cause weight loss, while in the later stages it can cause weight gain. These variations are the result of different aspects of the disease. Heres some information to help you understand the issue of kidney disease and weight gain, courtesy of Dr. Allen Lauer, of Associates in Nephrology.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Infection
If you have a kidney infection, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain in your back, side or groin
- Feeling like you have to urinate often, even if you just went
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Pus or blood in your urine
- Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. If you are currently taking medicine to treat a urinary tract infection , but you are still having any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.
If your health care provider thinks you might have a kidney infection, he or she might ask you for a urine sample to look or bacteria or other signs of infection. You might also need to have a blood test or imaging tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.
What Is A Kidney Problem
The kidneys form part of the urinary system, one of the bodyâs major filtration systems. Most people have two kidneys, situated in the upper abdominal area towards the muscles of the back and the edge of the ribs. The kidneys form part of the urinary system along with the two ureters, the bladder and urethra. Kidney problems affect the kidneys, but because the system works together, the effects of a kidney problem are sometimes felt throughout the system.
The kidneys themselves clean the blood by filtering it in the nephrons, which are made up of a renal tubule and a renal corpuscle. The corpuscle is made up of a glomerulus enclosed by the Bowmanâs capsule. To filter the blood, it is passed through the glomeruli at higher pressure than the bodyâs usual blood pressure. Filtered waste products collect inside the Bowmanâs capsule, while filtered, clean blood is passed back out of the glomeruli into the circulatory system. The tubule collects the waste products from the Bowmanâs capsule while also working on further exchanging certain substances and also reabsorbing water and certain minerals so they donât go to waste. The final resulting liquid is then passed into the ureters as urine. Urine collects in the bladder, which stores it until it is released by the urethra.
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Pus Or Blood In Your Urine
In most cases, your doctor would only see this if they did a dipstick urine test. Its because your urethra is inflamed and it could be shedding a little bit of blood, she explains. However, it is is possible that you might actually see blood when you go to the bathroom. As for pus, that would be more common in very complicated kidney infections, and would show up as white cells on the dipstick test.
Silent Symptoms Of Diabetes
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, including 7.2 million that are undiagnosed. Additionally, 1.5 million Americans are newly diagnosed each year. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. Diabetes has plenty of early signs, but some symptoms are subtle. Here are 10 subtle signs of diabetes:
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Kidney Stones Or Nephrolithiasis
Kidney stones are normally made up of hard collections of minerals which form in the renal system. These stones may stay in the kidneys for quite a while. They often become painful when they move out of the kidney into the ureter. The pain is often described as a strong colicky pain, usually felt in the ureter between the kidney and the bladder. Kidney stones can be extremely painful.
Colicky, strong to very strong pain coming in waves, is the most obvious symptoms of kidney stones. The location of the pain and where it spreads to gives clues as to where the stone is currently located in the urinary system. The pain of a kidney stone passing through the urinary system is felt suddenly and severely in the flank and spreads down the groin on the same side. Not all stones cause radiating pain. Some stones may not cause any pain.
Good to know: Pain from kidney stones is often described as excruciating. Kidney pain from kidney stones can come and go. It can occur in bouts lasting between 20 minutes and an hour. People with painful kidney stones often cannot keep still because of the discomfort. They are often pale and sweaty, with a painful, tender abdomen.
Other symptoms of kidney stones include:
Prevention Methods For Women
In addition to the above prevention methods, women can also:
- Avoid contraceptive methods that contain spermicide
- Avoid using a diaphragm as a birth control method
- Avoid the use of feminine products on genital regions, such as deodorant sprays and douches, which have the potential to irritate the urethra
- Receive vaccination against certain E. coli strains
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How Dermatologists Help Patients With Kidney Disease
Kidney doctors, called nephrologists, often care for patients with kidney disease. When a kidney disease affects the skin, a nephrologist may team up with a dermatologist. Some skin conditions that develop due to kidney disease can be difficult to control. For example, if a patient has extremely itchy skin, it may be impossible to sleep through the night. A board-certified dermatologist can help a patient get some relief. This may involve using the right balance of moisturizers and medication that you apply to the skin. Some patients get relief with a treatment called UVB phototherapy.
The right skin care may also help. If the kidney disease is causing extremely dry skin, these tips from dermatologists may help:
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.
ImagesImage 1: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Images 4, 5, 7, 8, 11: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
ReferencesAmin A, Burgess EF. Skin manifestations associated with kidney cancer. Semin Oncol. 2016 43:408-12.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.
Galperin TA, Cronin AJ, et al. Cutaneous Manifestations of ESRD. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 9:201-18.
What You Can Do To Relieve Itching In Kidney Disease
Apart from asking why kidney disease causes itching, the priority is finding relief for the problem. If you experience itching and have kidney disease, it is important to tell your doctor or the team in the dialysis unit. It may mean you have too much urea in your blood, and the team may need to review your medication and dialysis regime. Here are a few things you can do to try to reduce itching:
- Wear loose clothing made with natural fibers.
- Avoid perfumes, aftershaves, and use unscented soaps.
- Pat instead of rub skin after a shower.
- Avoid arid environments.
Sometimes you may need help from your doctor to manage the symptoms. They can prescribe an antihistamine or medication such as Gabapentin which reduces itching by interacting with nerve function. Both these types of drugs can make you sleepy, so you need to be monitored carefully. A dermatologist is another source of help and can advise on treatment options, such as using creams.
Remember to seek advice for any symptoms that develop with your kidney disease from the medical team treating you.
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What Causes Kidney Disease
According to the National Kidney Foundation, type 1 and type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease. These conditions cause about two-thirds of CKD cases. A person who has heart disease or a family history of kidney disease is also at an increased risk. Repeated urinary tract infections and the use of drugs that are toxic to the kidneys, such as over-the-counter pain medications, can also cause kidney damage.
The frightening thing about chronic kidney disease is that a person typically experiences no signs or symptoms in the early stages. The only way to know if someone is experiencing kidney problems is to see a doctor for testing.
Unfortunately, kidney disease does not go away. It may slowly get worse over time and most people dont realize they have kidney disease until it is already quite severe. Once these organs fail, the damage is permanent. The only options for treating end-stage renal disease are dialysis or a kidney transplant. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner steps can be taken to improve kidney health and prevent further damage.
Modify Your Diet Before Calling Your Doctor
Bergamo says if youre having some of these subtle symptoms try a low-carb diet of protein and green leafy vegetables. Avoid sugary drinks and drink at least 2 liters of water for a few days to see if these symptoms get better.
Subtle symptoms could be just that youre eating too many carbs and your body cant handle it, Bergamo says. It doesnt necessarily mean you have diabetes, but its a wake-up call that maybe youre headed that way.
If you have any symptoms that are frightening such as sudden numbness, weakness or chest pains, call your doctor immediately.
Are you concerned about diabetes? Talk to your doctor about having your blood glucose levels tested. Need a doctor? Find one near you.
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Signs Of Kidney Disease
Swollen Or Puffy Face
Why this happens:
Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the face.
What patients said:
My sister, her hair started to fall out, she was losing weight, but her face was really puffy, you know, and everything like that, before she found out what was going on with her.
My checks were always puffy and tight. Sometimes they would even hurt.
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Where Do You Itch With Kidney Disease
Itching with kidney disease can be generalized, or it can occur in specific parts of the body. Common areas for this type of itching include the head, arms, back, and abdomen. It also tends to be worse at night, which can disturb your sleep.
The itching is lower in intensity just after dialysis as the blood urea levels will be lower. However, it increases in intensity two days after dialysis. Sometimes a persons skin will appear normal while others have scratch marks from trying to stop the itching.
Scratching can lead to broken skin, which increases the risk of infection. As a person with kidney disease, you will be aware that you are vulnerable to infection, so you need to be careful when scratching that itch.