Why do liver problems give you itchy skin?


Quick Answer

When the body experiences liver problems, bile products can build up in the skin. When these deposits get large enough, intense itching is a common response. This is just one of many bodily changes when the liver starts to malfunction through cirrhosis, notes Temple University School of Medicine.

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Full Answer

Another way in which cirrhosis affects the skin is jaundice. The skin (and eyes) take on a yellow tone as the damaged liver stops taking in enough bilirubin. The skin also shows easier bruising, and palms can turn blotchy and red through palmar erythema, according to Temple University School of Medicine.

As the liver loses its ability to manage toxins in the body, problems begin to happen in just about every system. Bile that reaches the gallbladder instead of being filtered by the liver can lead to gallstones. Blood from the spleen and intestines develops added pressure as cirrhosis slows flow through the portal vein. Cirrhosis also causes the body to resist insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes if the problem is severe enough. Hepatocellular carcinoma, a form of liver cancer, is generally caused by cirrhosis, and its mortality rate is extremely high. Impotence, kidney failure, osteoporosis and toxin buildup in the brain are all possible consequences of liver disease, notes Temple University School of Medicine.

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