Zoloft itching (An irritating side effect)
In this blog, we are going to talk about zoloft induced itching. We are also going to shed some light on what researchers have to say about this. We will also learn if there is any other underlying itching causing condition that could become worse with the use of zoloft.
Does zoloft cause itching?
Zoloft is associated with skin allergies which might cause itching, a condition called pruritus. This side effect is more common in people who can not tolerate zoloft well and become hypersensitive to it.
It is reported that this side effect is dose dependent. People at higher doses are more likely to suffer from zoloft induced itching
What do researchers have to say?
A 2004 study represented a case in which a woman on zoloft experienced skin rash associated with redness and itching, just after consuming a chocolate. Now, this study indicates that zoloft might produce such effects by interfering with the food you eat.
Another study revealed that a few people developed zoloft induced skin rash just 3 days after the start of treatment. Skin rash is probably the most common cause of itching among zoloft users.
A 2008 study included 14 test subjects, 7 men and 7 women. The study was specifically designed to understand the effects of zoloft on skin. After a few weeks of treatment, it was observed that a few of the test subjects developed skin rash associated with itching, pain, redness etc.
Many experts believe that this effect is common in people who are at higher doses or people who can not tolerate zoloft well. If skin rash or itching occur right after taking zoloft, it indicates that the drug does not suit you and it produced an allergy once it got inside your body.
One theory suggests that as zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and increases the amount of this excitatory neurotransmitter. This excessive serotonin can cause rashes, itching or irritation on skin.
What could be done?
There are a few things you can do to help relieve your itching. They include:
Talk to your doctor
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider regarding your side effects. If your itching is beyond your level of tolerance, you should ask your doctor if your current dose is appropriate for you at the moment.
When the dose is too high, it produces unwanted side effects even more frequently.
Do not scratch
I know it must be pretty irritating, but do not scratch. Scratching will make your skin even more irritated. It might cause redness, inflammation and tears in your skin.
Menthol is well known for its cooling sensation. You must have probably tried menthol in gums so you know about its cooling properties. Several studies suggest that the application of oils containing menthol on affected skin can make a cooling and soothing layer over the skin. It helps relieve itching, pain, swelling and irritation.
Cool pads, ice packs or cold wet cloth could be applied on the affected skin. This could help relieve some of the irritation and itching associated with zoloft allergy. You can also try placing your soothing creams in the fridge and apply them when they get cold.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is well known for its multiple health related properties, one of which include its anti-inflammatory properties. Take a cotton swab and use it to apply apple cider vinegar on affected parts of your skin and wait for it to dry.
Note: Do not apply apple cider vinegar on open wounds. Some people tend to scratch so hard that it causes tears in the skin. Make sure you don’t put apple cider vinegar on such broken skin.
Baking soda is known to possess anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. You can try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in your bathtub filled with lukewarm water. This can help you relax and soothe your skin and can significantly reduce your itching.
Apply moisturisers on your skin
Dryness can make your itching even worse. Make sure you keep your skin moisturised. The use of moisturisers with rehydration properties can really help absorb some moisture in your skin. This can significantly reduce itching and allergy.
Wear comfortable and loose clothing
If your experience from zoloft induced itching, make sure you wear comfortable and loose clothing. It is not advised to wear tight clothing or such a fabric which could further irritate your skin.
When to call your doctor
Contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can if:
- Your itching does not get better within a few days
- Your itching gets worse or blisters start to appear on your skin
- Your skin looks red, teary or scaly.
- You notice slight bleeding from your cracked skin.
- You feel extreme painful and burning sensation on your skin
- You start noticing small pus-filled blisters in your mouth
- You notice eczema like patches on any part of your skin
- You notice discoloration of skin like bluish purple patches
It is extremely important to reach out to your healthcare professional as soon as you start noticing the above mentioned symptoms. Some medications don’t work well for you no matter how low of a dose you take.
In some case studies, people were found to be allergic to sertraline, the active ingredient of zoloft. Make sure you rule out any such risk.
Underlying health conditions that cause itching
Itching is a symptom which could relate to a variety of health conditions. Some of these are listed below:
- Liver problems: researchers suggest that itching could be a first sign of certain liver diseases. Make sure your liver enzymes are within the normal ranges.
- Anaemia: different types of anemias could be associated with itching or irritation on your skin. Make sure your red blood cells are within the normal ranges.
- Allergic reactions: allergic reactions are probably the most common cause of itching on your skin. You can get allergic to literally anything, including certain types of food, carpets, dust, mite, cotton, wool, medications, some types of fabrics etc.
- Skin problems: itchy skin problems include psoriasis, eczema, skin infections, dryness etc.
In this blog, we learned about zoloft induced itching. Zoloft is associated with a number of side effects including skin allergies. Such allergies are much more common in people who can not tolerate zoloft well or if their dose is too high.
Experts have suggested that side effects of zoloft are often found dose-dependent. It means that higher doses will produce more pronounced side effects as compared to the lower ones. Make sure you’re at the best possible dose of zoloft according to your condition.
In this blog, we also learned some ways to help relieve your itching. Just know that you’re not supposed to scratch it mindlessly. If it itches uncontrollably, try rubbing it gently or apply ice packs on the affected area.
FAQs: zoloft itching
Can Zoloft cause itching?
Yes, zoloft can cause itching. One theory suggests that as zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and increases the amount of this excitatory neurotransmitter. This excessive serotonin can cause rashes, itching or irritation on skin.
What antidepressant causes itching?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can cause itching within few hours to few weeks of starting treatment.
Can you be allergic to sertraline?
Yes, you can be allergic to zoloft. Allergies could include Stevens-Johnson condition associated with red, swollen, or blistered skin, with or without fever. Other allergic reactions, like rash, hives are common.
It also includes wheezing, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, swallowing, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat. Few of these symptoms indicate anaphylactic shock.
How long does it take to feel the effects of Zoloft?
Antidepressants, including zoloft, can start producing its effects within 3 to 4 weeks. You can not expect antidepressants to work overnight. It takes some time for these drugs to start making changes in your system.
It is not recommended to stop your antidepressant after a week or two of treatment, thinking that they don’t work. They do work. Give your body enough time to adjust to the med.
How will I know if Zoloft is working?
The simple answer: When your symptoms start to subside. Depression is commonly associated with feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
You don’t feel like socialising. Even your favourite activities don’t sound so good when you’re going through an episode of depression. So how do you know your med works?
You simply feel relieved from above mentioned symptoms. When you feel happy and satisfied, when you feel like engaging in your favourite activities and when you start feeling like being a part of your social gatherings again, you know your medicine is working.
What should you avoid when taking sertraline?
Avoid following foods and drinks while taking sertraline:
- St john worts
- Green tea
- Grapefruit juice
Other medications to avoid while you’re on zoloft include:
- Do not use zoloft with any irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Concomitant treatment is highly contraindicated due to the risk of serotonin syndrome with symptoms like agitation, tremor and hyperthermia
- Do not use zoloft with pimozide. Combining these medications can increase the plasma concentration(availability of a drug in the blood) of pimozide to much higher levels. It can result in life-threatening arrhythmia.
- Do not use concomitantly with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), aspirin, anticoagulants like warfarin etc. It can cause prolonged bleeding
What is the best time to take Zoloft morning or night?
It depends on your symptoms. If your zoloft causes insomnia, loss of libido or urinary problems, it’s best to take it in the morning. If it makes you tired, sleepy or nauseous, it’s best to take your med at night.
- Tracie J Sannicandro et al. Pharmacotherapy. (2002) – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced rash: case report and review of the literature https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11939687/
- B Beauquier et al. Encephale. (1998) – [Secondary dermatologic effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants: hypothesis of cross-reacting allergy. Apropos of 2 cases] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9559306/
- Marta Herstowska, Olivia Komorowska, and Jerzy Landowski – Severe skin complications in patients treated with antidepressants: a literature review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112250/
- Jonas Cederberg, Stefan Knight, Håkan Melhus – Itch and skin rash from chocolate during fluoxetine and sertraline treatment: Case report https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-4-36
- Itchy skin (pruritus) – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/itchy-skin/symptoms-causes/syc-20355006#:~:text=Itching%20on%20the%20whole%20body,and%20shingles%20(herpes%20zoster).
- Pruritus https://www.sparrow.org/departments-conditions/conditions/itchy-skin-pruritus