Scratching until she bleeds

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by jknight, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Mum has a habit of scratching her upper arms, legs, head and shoulders until she bleeds. Her blouses always have blood on them and her slippers are stained from her legs bleeding (on blood pressure medication so bleeds easily) Armchair, carpet & cushion are also badly stained. I am really worried about infection. Mum is doing it as a habit, rather than from irritation so I know stopping the behaviour is nigh on impossible. Any advice lovely fellow carers?
     
  2. DeMartin

    DeMartin Registered User

    Jul 4, 2017
    711
    Kent
    Mum, years ago, was on a blood pressure medication that caused her great irritation of her legs, an ACE inhibitor if I remember correctly.
    A change of medication reduced this.
     
  3. Angela57

    Angela57 Registered User

    Jan 22, 2016
    195
    I've never had this, so can't help, it must be so worrying.

    I'm sure others will be along to help. I'd just keep her nails as short as possible, would she keep gloves on? (Stating the obvious here), and ask others who have experienced the same behaviour for tips as you have done. I hope you find a solution.
     
  4. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Mum has been on the blood pressure medication since her 50's (88 now!) So I think it is habit!
     
  5. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Mum's brother has, jokingly, suggested scratch mittens! Mum is still living indepently, with a lot of support. She does jigsaws (admittedly with a lot of surreptitious help!) So gloves wouldn't be an option. I have a twiddle muff for her but I don't think she is at the stage where she would accept it, yet.
     
  6. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018
    130
    Female
    Hertfordshire
    I introduced the twiddle muff to my friend as a way of keeping her hands warm, and then she sort of liked doing various bits and pieces with the beads, buttons etc as her hands are pretty restless and she tends to try and do something with them all the time. She was reluctant at first but s she is quite often feeling cold even in a hot room it seemed like a good idea. She would always be covered with a blanket so I just asked are your hands cold? I made this, maybe it would help... And she loves it now.

    On a different note, could that scratching be a sign of some sort of agitation, stress, etc? I don't have dementia but often when i am stressed or anxious I scratch, not always consciously and then get really annoyed with myself when my arms or legs bleed?but i've done this ever since i remember, not sure if it's a new behaviour for your mum
    I'm sorry if this is not helpful in your situation.
     
  7. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Thank you! I was going to introduce the twiddle muff as a hand warmer. The scratching is realatively recent.(about a year) I have watched mum and I am sure it is a habit. She picks at scabs and her arms are covered in scar tissue (as are her shoulders, legs & head) I am worried about infection.
     
  8. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018
    130
    Female
    Hertfordshire
    I hope keeping her hands busy with twiddle muff is successfull and it will keep her hands busy enough to stop the scratching. I wish I could give more advice on how to beat it, but I can't. I have quite a few scars myself from repeatedly doing this and I have not found a way to combat it. It helps when I am agitated to knit or crochet and keep my hands busy, but I can't do anything at night:(
    Is your mum a knitter/ crocheter? Can she still do it? My friend can't as at 101 her hands are really bad with arthritis but maybe that could be some sort of solution?
     
  9. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Mum was a knitter but shows no interest at all nowadays. Thank you SO much for your responses. Means a lot to me
     
  10. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018
    130
    Female
    Hertfordshire
    Is it possible she might not remember/know how to start? I always found the casting on/off something that needs a lot of concentration. Can you knit? Would it be worth casting on a few stitches and maybe make first couple of rows and see if she can pick it up from there? If the twiddle muff was a success maybe she might be interested in making a couple for friends as xmas presents with some help to start with if necessary? Just a thought...
     
  11. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018
    130
    Female
    Hertfordshire
    or even just few simple squares in plain stitches, not to many at a time. later on they could be sewn together to make a lapghan to put over her legs in cold weather?
     
  12. Baz22

    Baz22 Registered User

    Dec 30, 2017
    46
    Male
    South West
    My Mother had this problem quite badly and it was only really resolved when the Doctor became involved and, after initial dressings to heal the wounds, Mum had some prescribed cream applied regularly to her skin. She is in a Care home now but they still apply the cream daily and the problem has gone away.
    BTW Mum also used to like jigsaws and knitting but cannot be bothered anymore despite encouragement to do so.
     
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,363
    Kent
    Hello @jknight

    This may sound far fetched but could the itching be caused by a form of hallucination? I've no idea how anyone could ascertain this . Is there any difference in the expression on your mother `s face when she scratches herself ?

    Sorry if I sound over dramatic.
     
  14. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Hello Baz22,
    I haven't involved the doctor, yet. When she first started picking her shoulders I had the GP take a look and a cream was prescribed to combat itchiness (in case something was irritating her skin) but she wouldn't let me apply it. She had always 'Just done it'.
    I'm guessing the district nurse service wouldn't be appropriate due to demand and more pressing needs......
     
  15. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Hi Granny!
    Hope you are well?
    Doesn't sound over dramatic as I know other people whose PWD suffered from hallucinations (a friend of mine used to shake'n'vac, regularly to 'kill' all the insects her mum could see!)
    Mum seems totally unconscious that she is doing it. You can be having a conversation, quite happily, and she will be picking away.
     
  16. Vicky C

    Vicky C Registered User

    Jun 23, 2013
    19
    Ireland
    Hi jknight, I have a similar situation with my mother, but in her case it's a habit of old, albeit more aggressive now.

    It was a sign of stress in my mother for as long as I can remember. Now she'll go for any exposed skin e.g. when being undressed. Although, interestingly, never her face.

    I don't think it's a reaction to anything (in my mother's case) but still have changed washing powder to non bio, and am using gentle body cream, shower gel. I also agree with e advice to keep finger nails short, and as clean as possible under the nail.
     
  17. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,302
    Cotswolds
    My mum had extreme itchiness and scratching in the last months she was at home. It was put down to dehydration and also kidney failure. She was much improved after a few litres of fluid from a saline drip.
    Just mentioning it in case it may help....
    All the best
    Lindy xx
     
  18. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Thank you Vicky C!
     
  19. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Many thanks, Lundy xxx
     
  20. marks

    marks New member

    Sep 4, 2018
    3
    My Mum has dementia and scratches herself until she bleeds. Her forearms and legs. I make a show of applying Sudacrem. 'This will fix it.' Applying it slowly and caringly. It stops her anxiety to the point where she will ask for it or try to put it on herself.

    I wish you luck. x
     

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