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Scratch Where It Itches

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:12pm

“But it itches!”

This is often Nigel’s refrain (spoken between clenched teeth) when I discreetly remind him to stop scratching his head. And no, he doesn’t have dandruff. Nor does he have lice, scabies, or any other type of external cause of itching.

The head itching started about a year and a half ago, before he began taking either of his two daily medications. Interestingly, it also started right around the same time that the “adjustments” started. By that I mean the “situating” of certain appendages that seem to become jostled throughout the day. Not having the same certain appendages myself, I’m unable to identify with the need for their frequent “adjustments.” Fortunately, my son’s hand remains outside of his clothing when he makes these “adjustments,” but I often have to remind him to go to a bathroom to do it, especially when we’re out in public. Same with the head-scratching.

“People don’t like to see other people scratching their heads for long periods of time,” I tell my son. “It’s not socially acceptable. When people see someone scratching endlessly, they think they have lice or some type of skin disease. A quick, occasional scratch is okay,” - and here, I demonstrate a discreet scratch -  ”but not a lengthy, ‘Bare-Necessities’ -type of scratch-fest.”

“But it won’t stop itching!”

Initially I thought that he might have been allergic to the shampoo he had been using, so we switched to a chemical-free, organic shampoo. Then a different one. Then T-Gel. Then we tried various ointments and creams. Heck, we even tried saturating his scalp with organic olive oil for 20 minutes prior to washing his hair, since I had read somewhere that it was a good remedy for itchy scalps. Nothing has worked. Nothing.

I considered the possibility of a food allergy causing his scalp to itch, but his diet hasn’t changed that much in the past year and a half since the itching started. We already tried the GF/CF diet, but Nigel has never exhibited the gut and digestive issues present with GF/CF allergies, nor did he show any signs of improvement when we tried the diet. It could be something not GF/CF-related, but since his daily diet has not changed much, I have no idea what it could be.

One thing’s certain - the itching started right about the time I realized that he was into puberty. So it could be a result of the hormonal changes he’s experiencing. If that’s the case, how long before his body adjusts? How long before his scalp normalizes and the itching goes away? I had learned last year at the Autism and Puberty seminar that I attended that people with autism are prone to Candida, a type of fungus, which can cause itching. However, that is usually accompanied by gastrointestinal issues and other symptoms. Yet again, I am at a loss for the cause of the itching of Nigel’s scalp.

So I’ll just blame puberty. It’s responsible for many other problems we experience around here. And since the average time span of puberty for boys is six years, we’ve got a few more years of rampant scalp-itching to contend with. Any ideas out there other than Baloo’s tree method? Please?

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