Itchiness is a skin condition triggered due to dryness of skin, use of harsh cosmetics, living in a dry climate, microbial infections, etc. Drying of skin is common among people who are old. Bacterial infections are also likely to cause skin conditions. At times, you may witness rashes or discoloration of skin along with itchiness. There are many ways to treat an itchy sensation; methods deployed include application of creams, avoiding exposure to excessive humidity as well as heat. In this milieu, does cholestyramine – a bile acid sequestrant – offer a possible cure to itchy skin? It is essential to know more about this.

It is difficult to identify the real reason behind the onset of itchiness. Often, a careful examination can help diagnose the underlying reason. Your doctor may also seek added inputs about prior medical conditions and allergies. The panel of tests done to diagnose the reasons include tests done on blood samples, renal function test as well as x-rays of your chest. There are a few home-remedies to treat an itchy sensation. Your doctor may prescribe creams and ointments based on corticosteroids; in some cases, photo-therapy is also used. In case of phototherapy, the skin is exposed to special rays of light. Such exposures to light are often administered over several sittings to bring about needful relief.

In general, there are a few precautionary measures you can consider; these measures include use of moisturizers, decrease the levels of anxieties and stress. You may also consider humidifying your room or use antihistamines (a popular genre of drugs known for their ability to treat allergies). In this light, drugs such as cholestyramine are also used to treat fairly acute episodes of itchiness.

Cholestyramine and its ability to treat itchiness

This drug helps reduce the quantum of gastric acids in your body. Once acid levels nosedive, your liver works on fats, and converts them into gastric juices. In this mode of functioning, the drug helps cure conditions like pruritus (popularly known as itching). This drug is especially used for treating itching spells caused by a liver injury or cirrhosis of the liver. Itching may also occur when your body finds it difficult to discharge biliary acids. This condition is labelled as cholestasis.

What is cholestasis?

Bile is a fluid (yellow or green color) which your liver makes; this is stored in your gallbladder to digest fats. Cholestasis occurs when bile does not reach your small intestine (i.e., duodenum). This condition may show up when there is an internal block – inside your ducts. One of the key signs of cholestasis is an incessant spell of itchiness. It is quite possible that this may be mistaken as a dermatological problem.  If left untreated, it can have an adverse impact on your sleeping cycles.

Resins that can bind bile acid are widely used to treat cholestasis. The most widely used resin is cholestyramine. However, in case of liver disorders – triggered by cholestasis – may lead to an accumulation of bilirubin. Such conditions may need vitamins; the most widely prescribed vitamins are K-vitamin and A-vitamin.

Possible side effects of taking cholestyramine

This drug may trigger a few undesired side effects. These adverse reactions are observed when you are allergic to the drug and its active ingredients. Side effects can also occur when an overdose of this drug is consumed. Always remember that a standard dose is in between 5 to 7 g. Ensure that the daily intake never breaches the 21 g limit.

If you have prior allergies or hypersensitivity, this drug may cause constipation or problems while discharging stools, gas formation, pain in the lower abdomen and nausea, vomiting, etc. It is equally important to tell your doctor about all the drugs you are currently taking. As cholestyramine can adversely interact with other drugs or treatment plans, tell your physician about present treatment plans. As another safety precaution, drink ample quantity of water while taking this med. This can help avoid constipation or other internal blockages. If you are living with a part of your bowel removed (wherein a part of it is surgically reduced in size) or with Crohn’s disease / disorder, you may need to take a few more precautions.

Only a small percentage of users have noticed very severe side effects while taking this drug. But, when you see traces of blood in your stool, chronic spells of constipation or irregular movement of bowel, consult with your treating physician.

Other needful precautions related to the intake of cholestyramine

No two patients of cholestasis / skin conditions such as itchiness are prescribed with same doses of this med. The dosage value prescribed to you depends on factors such as age, gender, prior clinical conditions as well as how well your body reacts to the first few doses. Hence, never share your meds with a family member or a friend who is experiencing the same signs & symptoms. It is always a safe practice to talk to a qualified clinical practitioner prior to consuming this med.

Never forget to follow all the safety precautions your medical team offers you. Also, do not take this med through a self-medication or consume it as an OTC drug. If you have taken an overdose of this drug, you may witness acute signs of nausea, vomiting and breathing difficulties. Some people have also reported dizziness or excessive levels of drowsiness. Upon sensing any one or more of these acute signs, reach out to 911 if you are a resident of the US. You can also try calling the emergency helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA). On the other hand, if you are living in any of the Canadian provinces, seek medical attention through Health Canada or contact a poison control center located near the place you live.

In sum, itching spells may occur when your system finds it difficult to excrete biliary juices / acids. This medical condition is called cholestasis. Cholestyramine can reduce the level of gastric acids in your body and in this process works as a cure for itchiness triggered by liver disorders. In clinical terms, this skin condition is known as pruritus. Talk to your medical team about the doses and other precautions needed for taking cholestyramine, while taking it for the treatment of pruritus / itching spells – caused by a hepatic disorder.

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