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Feet with dotted lines representing the feeling of ants walking across them. The tops of the feet are glowing red with inflammation.

Psoriatic Itch is a Thing, What a Relief

Last updated: May 2023

The beginning of the year wasn’t too shabby psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis-wise. My skin was mostly clear and joints felt okayish. We were having cooler days in Florida and that is my magic spot for skin and joints.

I never try to let myself feel too comfortable because I know how quickly things can change with Crohn’s, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and the weather. Even so, the deep itching and burning on top of my feet and between toes took me by surprise.

Apparently this is a thing, what a relief! It's called psoriatic itch. Here’s what I’ve learned.

This itching felt like I had been bitten by red ants all over the tops of my feet and in between toes. I feel confident in this assessment as it’s happened several times before throughout my life, because of Florida.

What was worse, I couldn’t physically be seen by my specialists because we’ve been under stay at home orders for the past few months.

Depending on your age, you may remember commercials from back in the day for athlete’s foot. You would see words like “burning, itching, and fungus on the screen. This was not a fungus, thankfully, but nevertheless, my mind went there.

I’m not a hypochondriac but take away easy access to my medical team and my head was spinning!

Itching and scratching impacting sleep

The itch was so bad that I must have been scratching in my sleep. That is when I could sleep. Antihistamines helped dull the itch and allowed me to sleep. In trying to keep things logical and practical, I self-assessed.

  • No plaques but I have a few patches of inverse psoriasis that come out when it’s close to needing my next dose of biologic.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is very prevalent in my feet, and the closer it is to injection time the more painful it can get.
  • The itch on top of my feet and around my toes is not related to a rash.
  • There are what I call puffs of fluid on top of my feet and on top of my toes signaling inflammation from psoriatic arthritis.

So, my self-assessment helped me feel comforted that the answer is probably condition related. The next thing I did was go to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) and sure enough, jackpot.

Learning more about psoriatic itch

Deep burning and itching are related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis!

Confirmation and validation achieved. I found it interesting also that the NPF acknowledges itch is present in the majority of psoriasis patients, but it wasn’t widely accepted by doctors.

Only in the past ten years has this become an acknowledged symptom of psoriasis. This is because researchers have determined pain and itching signals travel down separate pathways to the spine.1

So, can you have psoriatic itch and not have a plaque or rash or skin disturbance present? Yep.

Are you at risk of scratching your skin raw? Also, yes.

Does scratching your skin raw put you at risk for creating a skin infection? Totally.

I mentioned that using antihistamines at night to help dull the itching and burning feeling on the tops of my feet, helped. But I hate the medication hangover feeling I get some mornings when I’ve had to take a full dose or multiple throughout the day and evening.

Moisturizer with a numbing agent for the itch

Luckily, I have a moisturizer with a numbing agent that my allergist and dermatologist recommended. It’s available over the counter and made specifically for itchy skin.

Speaking of moisturizer, dry skin can be a cause for the psoriatic itch. Another cause for psoriatic itch is stress. Cool, because I’ve got an abundance of that going on. A third cause is a lack of vitamin D or sun exposure.

Vitamin D prescription to help with symptoms

Thankfully, my GI recently prescribed a small daily dose for Vitamin D to see if we can build up the level. Since the stay at home orders were given, and it is a billion degrees outside, I haven’t gone outside nearly as much as I did in the cooler months.

Movement is another thing that has helped me refocus attention from the psoriatic itch. I realized that I notice the itch far less when I’m busy doing something in the house or if I manage to get outside.

Do you live with psoriatic itch? Tell us what you do to help combat the annoying burning itch.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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