Author Topic: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!  (Read 7245 times)

lindaneall

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Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« on: August 03, 2011, 10:10:06 PM »
Feb. 1st I began 200 mg. (1 pill) a day of the brand name Plaquenil.  Three months later in early May the back of my head began itching. It is STILL causing me grief.  Then 3 weeks after the back of my scalp began itching,  my upper left shoulder broke out in a bumpy, itchy rash.  It looks like miniature hives.  My husband prescribed Triamcinolone Cream and this has greatly helped. However, after my left shoulder cleared up, it broke out again terribly 2 weeks later.

My local rheumy feels that if it were related to Plaquenil that my whole body would be itching.  However, a dermatologist friend strongly disagrees and said that a drug reaction can cause localized itching.

I tried switching to the generic (Hydroxychoroquine) 1 week ago to see if it would help. Dr. Vivino told me that if I have problems with one, then to try switching to the other.  3 days after trying the generic, my OTHER shoulder broke out in this itchy mess. Now, BOTH shoulders have areas that look like they have miniature hives, along with this incessantly itchy scalp. Also, yesterday a little itchy spot broke out on my abdomen.  So....the generic seems to be worse. After 3 and 1/2 months, these itchy areas just aren't going away.  It is not due to dry skin.

For those of you with itchy skin due to the Plaquenil, did your Dr. make you get off of it or try reducing the dose?  I am only on 200 mg now.  Have any of you had itching that never resolved on the Plaq?  This is just getting SO annoying, yet I really need to be on this for my severe case of Sjogren's and gastroparesis. Thanks for your input.



irish

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2011, 11:52:10 PM »
Oh shoot! That is the pits. Nine chances out of 10 it will be an allergic reaction to the drug. And, yes, you can have a very isolated rash from a drug reaction. I had a 6-8 cm red wheal above my right knee with my allergic reaction to rifampin.

It showed up about 6 weeks after I started the TB drugs for my M. kanasis. I am wondering if the doc started on prednisone at the same time you started the plaquenil??? Much of the time docs will do this to help relieve the symptoms until the plaquenil kicks in. Sometimes when you have prednisone along with a drug it sort of soothes the way and you body will get used to the drug without any "events".

With the presistent spread of this hivey rash it sure makes it hard to believe that you will be able to continue the drug. The one thing that might help solve the problem is to stop the plaquenil. If you stop and the rash goes away in a logical period of time and then restart the drug only to have the rash come back. Bingo--you will know.

It is also possible that you are having a rash from another cause. Dermatology has advanced a lot but these darn rashes are still hard to pinpoint and nail down. They can show up and drive a person crazy for a long time only to disappear almost overnight. If the rash stays when you have been off the  plaquenil it could well be from something else.

Then there is the other possibility---who the heck knows!! My hubby suffered with the hivey rash like yours here and there and everywhere for many months. We tried holding just about every med he was on to no avail. When it came time to hold his inhalers we held the Spireva first and that was the one. He cleared up very quickly. They even advertise the hives as a common side effect but we didn't even think of it. Hope you can figure this out. Irish ;D

stephL

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 03:30:29 AM »
Itching is not an uncommon symptom to have with an autoimmune disease, so my hunch is that the itching is a new symptom. It's possible that you developed an allergy to Plaquenil after taking it for three months but unlikely. I'm not a healthcare professional but just from my personal experience, allergic reactions usually occur soon after you begin taking take a medication.

I've suffered from severe itching and it started years before I was diagnosed and treated with Plaquenil. To relieve the itching, I take Zyrtec or a generic equivalent. If I take Zyrtec regularly, and on time every 24 hrs, it controls the itching pretty well. But if I forgot to take it and it wears off, the itching flares really severely and it's difficlult to get back under control again.

If you really need to to know, I guess you have to stop taking Plaquenil but I would hate to see you disrupt your treatment needlessly. It's a tough decision.

I hope you figure it all out and feel better soon lindaneal!


Edit: I know that Zyrtec can contribute to dryness symptoms. I personally don't notice it being an issue.Without the Zyrtec, I think I would lose my mind from the itching, it's very frustrating! So even if it does contribute a little to dryness, I'm willing suffer that because the itching is just so unbearable.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 03:44:38 AM by stephL »
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lindaneall

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 07:06:01 AM »
The crazy thing about this itching is that this is the 3rd attempt back on the plaquenil and with the 1st two tries I had no itching but different side effects that made me discontinue it.

The 1st time I was on it (brand name) 400 mg. for 8 months and had to d/c due to terrible intestinal cramping and tinnitus. These side effects didn't begin until I had been on it for 5- 6 months.

The 2nd time I d/c it after 6 months due to mild persistent nausea. Again, I was on brand name and 400 mg. day.

Now, the 3rd attempt I am only on 200 mg. a day and then these itchy spots began after 3 months. Ugh!  I fly to see Dr. Vivino on Sept. 15 so will see what he recommends. I will call his office sooner if this gets worse. I am just SO sensitive to meds.  I have bad leukopenia and had to d/c Methotrexate after 2 weeks because it pulled the WBC's too critically low.

Irish and StephL, thank-you so much for you ideas.  Irish, do you think that if this were an allergic response that it should have shown up on the 1st two attempts on the Plaquenil?  Also, I agree that it might be worthwhile to stop the Plaq. for a bit just to see if this resolves.  However, at the same time wouldn't it be like starting all over again to build up the pos. effects if I d/c it for 2 weeks?  Thanks again:)

lindaneall

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 07:09:36 AM »
Oh, I wanted to add on to what I just posted a few minutes ago.

I am not on any other meds besides the plaquenil.  Also, there has been no change in my diet, lotions, shampoo, soap, or anything else that I can think of.  Because the prescription steroid cream helps to clear this up (then it returns!), then I tend to believe it is drug related.

ohiolady

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 09:38:49 AM »
Linda,

I am sorry to hear you are struggling with this rash, it has to be miserable.  I can relate to being sensitive to medicines as I have that problem myself.  Keep us posted and I sure hope you find an answer to this misery.

Anna
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 11:17:56 AM by ohiolady »
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Iris

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 10:52:49 AM »
I had to stop plaquenil because of an itchy rash.. It didn't bother me until I raised the dose above 200mg a day then it went wild.. Besides the red rash I had all over I also had itchy bumps on the palms of my hands that seemed to be deep under the skin..

My doctor had me to stop all medicines I was taking until it went away then start the plaquenil again.. The rash started again within a day.. So no more plaquenil for me..  :(

It's not unusual for me to take a medicine fine one time then the next time I take it i'm allergic to it.. It sure is expensive paying for all of those prescriptions and then you can't take them..
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lindaneall

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 02:07:48 PM »
Iris, thanks for sharing your experience.  This a.m. I ended up calling the Univ. of PA to speak with Dr. Vivino's nurse.  She will call me back this eve. or tomorrow a.m. and tell me if I am to stop it for awhile.  She says often Dr. Vivino has someone d/c the med. and then restart it in 2-4 weeks.  After being on it for 6 1/2 months, I don't relish the thought of having to start again from ground zero.  It takes so long for it to be therapeutic.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.  Anna, thanks also for your kind wishes.

lindaneall

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Re: Terrible Itching on Plaquenil---PLEASE HELP!!!
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 11:44:13 AM »
Yesterday Dr. Vivino's nurse called.  I was given 2 options....either stop the Plaquenil or try Allegra.  Since the itching isn't too severe, I'll keep using the topical cream and try the Allegra. I also read the other day that someone mentioned a natural antihistamine called D-Hist.  I was so grateful to have heard about this also.  Maybe I'll give that a try.  I just couldn't tolerate any drowsiness on an antihistamine and wouldn't relish any more dryness.