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Was supposed to be asleep, but at like 1am, an episode of Dr. G, Medical Examiner came on and the woman had lupus and I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep until it went off! The woman had awoken with intense itching all over and had taken quite a few antihistamine (ie benadryl) pills and was very groggy and out of it when her brother found her on the couch. He took her to the hospital where they got her more alert and talking, but she suddenly went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived and died. Think she was 36 years old.

Turns out that the intense itching was due to a flare-up with her lupus. All other physical signs pointed to her lupus being well-controlled, but turns out she was experiencing vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) which is what caused the intense itching. What killed her was that vasculitis was affecting the blood vessels around the heart and once they stopped functioning correctly and the supply of blood to her heart became inadequate, this threw her into cardiac arrest. She also had early signs of heart disease and narrowing of her blood vessels, which didnít help any (and which we are all at risk for earlier than other people). She was on prednisone at the time, but I guess she did not recognize the itching as a sign of vasculitis. She maybe could have saved herself if she had recognized this and taken a large dose of prednisone instead of Benadryl, which would have stopped the inflammatory process in her blood vessels or at least brought it way down so she could seek medical attention.

This reminds me that before my lupus was diagnosed, I had intense itching constantly, I was at the doctor begging for anything to make it stop, but nothing did until I got some prednisone in me, think my doctor started me on 60mg, it was so wonderful! It was like my flesh was itching on the inside, no scratching would touch it. I would sit at my computer and at work, repeating in my head, donít scratch, donít scratch, you are in public, you canít scratch like that in public! My eyelashes itched, lol. Wanted to scratch my eyeballs out! I can laugh now, but it was not funny then. Not a normal itch, so all of you newly diagnosed people please be aware that itching can mean something. Take care out there!
Hi Darkwater;
Your post made me think of something. I was recently put on aspirin therapy for APS. My main symptoms was livedo reticularis particularly on my legs in the quadricep area and reynaud's phenomenon in my fingers. I also tested positive for one of the antibodies responsible for APS

I don't exercise all that much (I stand up and walk around all day long...teaching high school math...I never stop moving really) but as far as vigorous exercise, sadly I don't really exert myself. However when I have jogged in the several years I've experienced the extreme itching you spoke of in the same places that the livedo reticularis was showing up. Is it possible that the itching was due to inflamed blood vessels as I got my heart rate up? Interesting connection that I hadn't made before. I just always thought it was strange how my quadriceps itched so badly when I got the "blood pumping" while jogging.

What do you think?

Michelle in CA
I think that when your circulatory system is not working right-especially in the extremeties-itching is a sign of something amiss. Maybe not terribly wrong in the sense of being life-threatening, but when you exert yourself for exercise, the need for increased circulation is high becaue those tissues need more oxygen to get to them. But for those whose circulation is not working right, no matter what the need for oxygenated blood, it just isn't going to happen properly and I think this leads to this intense itch. My legs, feet, and ankles, plus my hands itch a lot after I exercise and sometime even when I don't.
That is SO interesting! I never put the two things together. And now that I think about it, I haven't been running since I started taking aspirin every day. I wonder if that would have any effect. Crazy thing this autoimmune stuff!
Thanks for the information.

Take good care,

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