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very itchy - particularly around incision

yasminayyasmina Posts: 166
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Yes, I know that itchiness is normal around an incision. However, this is more around the dressing, where the tape is holding the dressing in place. It is driving me batty!

It is to the point where I have taken the dressing off for a short break. The incision itself is covered with a light gauze, and is not itchy. I can tell that the incision area is swollen, but not infected; not red, oozing, or any other sign of infection. But OMG does it itch where the tape is. I have used several types of surgical tape and gauze, so I can't pinpoint it to a particular tape or gauze.

Can anyone offer any suggestion as to why this may be occuring??


  • I had a bit of an allergic reaction to my dressings because I had to wear them for so long. In the UK we ask pharmacists a lot and mine suggested taking antihistamines. As my rash actually got worse once the dressings finally came off I then used hydrocortisone cream on the area. It is pretty much better now.
    I can sympathise - the itching drove me nuts!
  • Yasmina, ask your surgeon if you can replace the dressing tape with paper tape. It doesn't stick quite as well, but it sounds like you're having an allergic reaction to the one they used. The same thing happens to me, it seriously does drive you crazy.
  • Paper tape isn't as irritating, as Andrea said. You can also get a roll of gauze and wrap it around if your incision is high enough up. Just don't get it too tight! LOL
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Do you have stitches or staples? They used a glue on my neck incision and I did not need a dressing. You are a few days out post op and letting the air at your incision a few times a day is fine right now. The tape may be the root of your problem.

    Best wishes,

  • Hi Yasmina,

    You may be developing a latex allergy, many times it's a component of the adhesives used on the tape.

    Ask your doc if it's OK to use co-wrap instead of tape. It's a stretchy type of wrap that sticks to itself, it's often used instead of Ace bandages with ankle sprains, I've also seen it used to hold the gauze in place post blood donation. The idea would be to wrap it around your neck to hold the dressing in place. It's won't be pretty, but it may do the trick.

    I'd also ask if it would be OK to take some oral benadryl (diphenhydramine is generic) or to maybe use a cortisone cream on the itchy areas.

    Hope this helps
  • You could also be having a reaction to the prep that was used. There are several kinds of preps, and the one that was used on you would have been your doctor's preference. I actually had this happen to me, and did not realize it for days; just felt my back was itching. When I fianlly used a mirror to look at my back, the reactive area was the large square area that is normally prepped before they place the drapes and begin surgery. I am 2 weeks out, and mine resolved after 7-8 days. Just be careful not the scratch near the incision. You could introduce bacteria close to the incision, which could be devestating.

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