Itching is not one of the most common symptoms of fatty liver disease, but some people experience it, so you shouldn’t consider it completely out of the ordinary. And today we’re talking about itching with a fatty liver – including some relief methods for you.
Itchy skin (pruritus) can be associated with various liver conditions, including fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but there could also be plenty of other reasons for itchy skin, like allergies.
While uncommon, itching is one of the symptoms of a fatty liver, but an itchy skin alone is not enough to diagnose NAFLD.
If you have itchy skin with or without other symptoms, you should definitely visit your doctor to get properly diagnosed and to receive the required treatment.
Usually this pruritus (medical term for itching) is caused by skin conditions or allergies and not liver disease, as we can see in this article, among many.
But if you already have a fatty liver, you should know that some of the people with this condition indeed experience itching. For some, skin rashes are present as well.
While itching is usually more common with more serious and advanced liver diseases, even a grade one fatty liver, which is the easiest to reverse, could cause it in some people. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that your fatty liver is advanced, or getting worse.
This is why it is extremely important to get properly diagnosed by a hepatologist, ideally via ultrasound and/or MRI: to know exactly the grade of your fatty liver and to get proper advice to reverse it.
If you have just been diagnosed, I wrote an in-depth article about what to do first.
What causes itching with fatty liver?
The real causes of pruritus when associated with liver disease are not fully known.
Various studies on the matter have been conducted, without any clear results or findings.
The medical community did not agree upon the causes of itching with fatty liver, but the most common reasons for this are (source here):
- increased concentration of bile salts
- increased histamine levels
- differences in progesterone levels
Other potential causes for it could be things that doctors certainly know and understand better than regular folks. Things like endogenous opioids and LPA (lysophosphatidic acid) are considered to be behind the itching.
In plain words, my doctor told me that “it’s basically a lot of toxins that are evicted by our body through the skin, making it itch.”
But no matter what the main cause behind this is, itching is real and sometimes associated with fatty liver.
We have people on our fatty liver support group reporting it, including various rashes that accompany it.
However, in some of these cases, the actual reason behind the itching is different (from allergies to other skin conditions) – so not related to the fatty liver disease.
This is why I have to repeat: it’s extremely important, if you have these symptoms, to visit a doctor and find out exactly what causes your itching in order to know how to treat it.
Fatty Liver-Related Itching Relief: What to Do?
The best way to get rid of this NAFLD-related pruritus is to reverse your fatty liver by following a proper diet for it.
Reversing your fatty liver doesn’t happen overnight, though. And even though, based on my own experience, all the symptoms improve as soon as one-two weeks after you start making the required lifestyle changes to cure your liver, you might want some other ways to scratch the itch without actually doing it.
For that, we have various over the counter creams and ointments that could help you, including antihistamines and other types of creams with various ingredients, from corticosteroids to natural ingredients.
Oral medication might be an option too – although in this case, taking extra pills will put additional pressure on the liver, so it’s usually not done.
However, you should only take any of these medication after a visit to the doctor and only based on their recommendations.
Never try to self treat using medicine (even OTC) especially if you don’t have a proper diagnosis as you can end up doing more harm than good.
Other things you can try to relief itching with fatty liver disease are:
– not scratching. The more you scratch, the more it will itch so you will not accomplish anything – just risk getting the scratches infected.
– take quick showers with warm water instead of long baths of showers with hot (or cold) water. This reduces the dry skin you get afterwards, as well as the extra impact of the hot water over your skin.
– apply moisturizing creams or lotions. Choose hypoallergenic products with no fragrances.
– apply a warm, wet cloth on the area that itches. Change it regularly.
– wear loose clothes or, if possible, try not to cover with clothes the area that itches.
The methods above might work or not – you should try and see which works best for you and, as you can see, there aren’t plenty of options.
Combine these with eating a clean diet and exercising, and you will get past the problems, as long as they are related with a fatty liver. The sooner you start dieting, the sooner you will get rid of all the symptoms, including itching.
Itching is sometimes associated with a fatty liver and the best way to get rid of it is to start dieting and working to reverse your condition.
While at home remedies such as applying a wet cloth over the itchy area or applying moisturizing creams might help, it’s also a good idea to visit a doctor and maybe get prescribed an anti itching cream.
If you have other methods to reduce itching associated with fatty liver disease, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section below.
I was diagnosed with a fatty liver back in 2014 and managed to reverse it by mid-2015. Since then, I’ve been studying it, continuously updating my knowledge with the latest scientific findings and practical approaches to give others the help they need to reverse their condition.
My approach to managing fatty liver is holistic, balancing scientifically-backed information with real-life, practical advice based on personal, direct experience.
I am also the admin of the Fatty Liver Support Group on Facebook and the Fatty Liver Subreddit.