Is Kidney Failure Related to Itching?


Quick Answer

Itching is a possible symptom of kidney failure as well as liver disease, explains Mayo Clinic. Skin can itch due to a variety of problems, from drug and allergic reactions to nerve disorders and dry skin.

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Kidney failure causes itchy skin because the kidneys fail to filter out wastes, resulting in high phosphorus levels that cause skin irritation, states The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. During kidney failure, the kidneys are also unable to balance nutrients in the blood, such as calcium and phosphorus. This triggers the parathyroid gland to produce extra hormone to combat the blood imbalance, resulting in itchy skin. Itching also often occurs before or after dialysis treatments due to the waste products in the blood.

There are several ways to manage the itching, such as ultraviolet light treatment and diet restrictions, according to The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Patients can eat less phosphorus-rich foods to help manage itching or take medications that bind phosphates, such as calcium carbonate and calcium acetate. Ultraviolet light therapy is another option where the patients either spend more time outside in the sunlight or in a light box. Taking antihistamines, including Benadryl, can also help to manage the itching.

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