Why people with kidney disease may have itchy skin

Credit: Unsplash+.

Many might not immediately link kidney disease with skin issues, yet for those affected by this condition, itchy skin and rashes are a common and troublesome reality.

This article delves into why these skin problems occur in kidney disease and how they can be managed.

Kidney disease hampers the body’s ability to cleanse the blood, remove excess water, and balance minerals. When kidneys falter, toxins accumulate in the body, leading to various symptoms including skin irritations.

One of the primary skin complaints by those with chronic kidney disease (CKD), especially in advanced stages or those undergoing dialysis, is itchy skin, or pruritus. But what causes this itchiness? The main factor is the buildup of waste products in the blood.

Normally, the kidneys filter out these wastes along with excess minerals like phosphorus. However, when the kidneys are impaired, these substances accumulate to levels that irritate the skin, causing itching.

Additionally, imbalances in calcium and phosphorus can dry out the skin, making it prone to itching.

Research shows that pruritus significantly impacts the quality of life for those with kidney disease. Studies indicate that many patients on hemodialysis report varying degrees of itchiness, from moderate to severe.

This constant discomfort can disrupt sleep, lower overall quality of life, and lead to depression.

Addressing this symptom is critical but challenging. While traditional skin treatments such as moisturizers and topical steroids can offer temporary relief, they do not tackle the underlying problem.

One effective approach is managing phosphorus levels through diet, phosphorus binders, and proper dialysis, which can alleviate some of the itching. Additionally, new treatments targeting the specific itch related to CKD are under development, providing hope for better management.

Another research avenue explores the immune system’s role in pruritus.

It’s believed that certain pro-inflammatory substances, which are usually cleared by the kidneys, can build up in CKD, activating nerve endings in the skin and causing itchiness. This has led to potential treatments targeting these inflammatory markers.

Education on proper skin care is also vital for managing pruritus. Patients are encouraged to use gentle soaps, take lukewarm showers, apply moisturizers regularly, and avoid scratching to prevent further skin damage.

In summary, while itchy skin and rashes are often overlooked symptoms of kidney disease, they pose a significant issue for many patients. Understanding the link between kidney disease and skin problems underscores the importance of comprehensive care.

By focusing on the root causes and investigating new treatments, there is hope for those suffering from this uncomfortable symptom. Continued research is opening up improved management strategies and enhancing the quality of life for patients with kidney disease.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to protect your kidneys from diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and eating nuts linked to lower risk of chronic kidney disease and death.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.