Hepatitis Central states that a person can relieve itching skin from liver disease by applying ice or cool compresses to the itchy area; keeping the skin moisturized by avoiding the use of soap, remaining hydrated, and using gentle moisturizers; bathing in warm rather than hot water, with colloidal oatmeal added; and wearing loose clothing made of natural materials. A doctor may prescribe medications to relieve itching, such as antihistamines, analgesics, cholesterol-lowering medications, antidepressants and opioid antagonists.
Only a few studies support the efficacy of using these medications to treat the bothersome itching that accompanies liver disease, according to an interview published in the Gastroenterology & Hepatology journal. Other treatments under study, as of 2015, include nasobiliary drainage, vagal nerve stimulation and the use of transdermal buprenorphine. Liver transplant is another option. Ultraviolet therapy and relaxation and behavioral therapies are sometimes helpful, reports the International Journal of Dermatology.
Itching in people with liver ailments is likely due to the buildup of toxins that the damaged liver is unable to filter adequately, states Hepatitis Central. Itching can negatively impact quality of life, interrupting sleep and causing depression and potential suicide, explains Gastroenterology & Hepatology. While patients with liver disease may receive medications to slow the progression of the disease, these medications don't have any effect on the itching.