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An older report but determines problem in some pHD's skin responses (itching etc?)

Sympathetic skin response and heart rate variability in patients with Huntington disease.
Arch Neurol 1999 Oct;56(10):1248-52   (ISSN: 0003-9942)

To examine the autonomic nervous system functions in patients with Huntington disease.

Although patients with Huntington disease frequently experience vegetative symptoms, it is not clear if there is dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.

Sympathetic skin response (SSR) latency and amplitude from both palms and soles and R-R (heart rate) interval variation (RRIV) at rest and during the Valsalva maneuver were  examined in 22 patients and 21 age-matched controls. Unified Huntington's Disease Rating  Scale scores were determined in all the patients.

Our data are reported as means +/- SEMs. The SSR latencies in patients (mean palm latency, 1835.8+/-110.7 milliseconds; mean sole latency, 2625.3+/-226.9 milliseconds) were prolonged  compared with controls (mean palm latency, 1359.5+/-28 milliseconds [P<.01]); mean sole
latency, 2038.1+/-44.9 milliseconds [P<.01]) and amplitudes in patients (mean amplitude,  1063.1+/-237.7 microV) were smaller compared with controls (mean amplitude, 1846.3+/-251.2  microV [P<.05]).

The RRIV in patients both at rest (mean RRIV in patients, 3.7%+/-0.4% vs. controls, 9.7%+/-0.6% 
[P<.01]) and during the Valsalva maneuver (mean RRIV in patients, 6.3%+/-1.6% vs. controls,  14.5%+/-1.2% [P<.01]) was lower compared with controls.
Furthermore, the prolonged SSR latencies, smaller amplitudes, and lower RRIV in patients compared  with controls closely correlated with the various components of the Unified Huntington's Disease  Rating Scale scores (total behavior score and SSR latency, R = 0.6 [P<.01]; total behavior score  and SSR amplitude, R = -0.5 [P<.05]; total behavior score and RRIV, R = -0.4 [P<.05]; verbal fluency  and SSR latency, R = -0.5 [P<.05]; verbal fluency and SSR amplitude, R = 0.5 [P<.05], verbal fluency and RRIV, R = 0.5 [P<.05]; total functional capacity and SSR latency, R = -0.6  [P<.01]; total functional capacity and SSR amplitude, R = 0.5 [P<.05]).

These results suggest that there is autonomic nervous system dysfunction in patients with Huntington disease.
Arch Neurol 1999 Oct;56(10):1248-52   (ISSN: 0003-9942)
Sharma KR; Romano JG; Ayyar DR; Rotta FT; Facca A; Sanchez-Ramos
Department of Neurology, University of Miami, Fla. 33136, USA.
This is interesting and probably explains why some pHD's feel that constantitching or, like Kelly, have certain fabric's itching them!!    Isn't it good to know things AREN'T all in your head!!!

NEW YORK, Jan 05, 2001 (Reuters Health) - Everyone needs to scratch an itch from time to time, but how the body senses an itch has been a mystery. Now researchers in Arizona have identified nerve cells believed to be responsible for itchy sensations.

The discovery may lead the way to better treatments for itching, which can be a major problem for people with some ailments, including HIV infection, kidney failure and liver disease.

For years, scientists have debated how the body produces an itchy sensation, with some believing that itching is actually a form of pain and others suspecting that there are specific brain cells that control itching.

Now investigators at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix have gathered evidence suggesting that itchiness and pain arise from different sources. Drs. David Andrew and A. D. Craig have identified a group of nerve cells that become activated when an itch occurs. The findings are published in the January issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

In the study, the researchers applied histamine--a substance that triggers an itch--to the skin of cats. Within 1 to 3 minutes, this test produced a response in a group of nerves in a part of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn. This response peaked after an average of 5 minutes, but the response of some of the nerves lasted as long as 30 minutes.

"Our findings provide strong evidence supporting the specific nature of the sensation of itch," the authors conclude.

Even though itch and pain share a common pathway, the experiments show that the itch-sensitive nerves are distinct from those linked to pain.

The discovery of the itch-specific nerves is "a breakthrough in our understanding of itch mechanisms," Dr. Martin Schmelz, of the Institute for Physiology in Erlangen, Germany, notes in an editorial that accompanies the study. Treatments that target these nerves may prove to be effective at relieving itching, he concludes.

SOURCE: Nature Neuroscience 2001;4:9-10, 72-77.
From an article in Medscape on the problems of aging on skin:

Topical corticosteroid ointments, adequate lubrication, and avoidance
of harsh soaps and chemicals are the main modalities of treatment.

In generalized pruritus, underlying systemic diseases such as chronic
renal failure, diabetes mellitus, cholestasis, thyroid problems, lymphomas,
iron deficiency, polycythemia rubra vera, or drug allergy can be the cause.
i.e. check for vitamin deficiencies, thyroid, drugs etc for the cause for itching skin first!

Source:  Medscape Users
Wounds-Skin Problems in the Elderly