Pruritis (itching) may occur as a symptom of MS. It is one of the family of abnormal sensations — such as “pins and needles” and burning, stabbing, or tearing pains — which may be experienced by people with MS. These sensations are known as dysesthesias, and they are neurologic in origin.
Dysesthetic itching may occur suddenly and intensely, but for brief periods. It may be present over any part of the body or face. It is different from the generalized itching that can accompany an allergic reaction, as there is no external skin rash or irritation at the site of itching. Corticosteroid ointments applied to the skin are not helpful in relieving this type of dysesthetic itching. There are, however, several medications that are usually successful in treating dysesthetic itching. Among them are:
anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol®), phenytoin (Dilantin®) and gabapentin (Neurontin®)
antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil®) and the MAO inhibitors
the antihistamine hydroxyzine (Atarax®).
People who experience itching should consult their physician.