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Itchy Port

Rocquie's picture
Posts: 856
Joined: Mar 2013

I had a Rituxan Maintenance infusion Monday. Since then, the skin over my port has been itching. I can remember it being a little itchy before and finding myself mindlessly scratching the area. But this is a rather maddening itch! My nurse uses an ethyl chloride spray to freeze the skin before she inserts the harpoon needle. I wonder if I have become allergic to the spray?

When I've been in the hospital, the nurses used a little lidacaine shot. When I had a home health nurse, she didn't use anything--I just had to "man up" and take it.

I've never seen discussions of port access here and now I am wondering about others' experiences?

Best to all,




Posts: 210
Joined: Jul 2013

You know...I think there's a country song by the name of my subject line.

I've noticed that my port itches from time to time but I don't think it's because of the Rituxan I've recevied.  To me, it feels like a 'healing itch'--similar to what you'd expereience with a cut or floor burn healing.  Area 51 doesn't use the freezing spray (my first oncologist's office used that stuff).  Area 51 just swabs the area with some secret alien swabs...never asked what it is.

I have found that taking a nice deep breath just before they 'harpoon' me helps the initial pain.  The nurses know to have me do that now and give me warning.  Everyone of them also 'apologize' for the brief pain of the harpoon...which I wish they wouldn't...lol.

That help?



Rocquie's picture
Posts: 856
Joined: Mar 2013

Isn't it Miley's Daddy that sings about his itchy-itchy port? Smile

Posts: 210
Joined: Jul 2013

Right you are (and I'm not even a country fan):

Don't touch my port; my itchy-itchy port; I just don't think you understand

Cause if you touch my port; my itchy-itchy port; I might just leave this chemo session!

(like any of us would do that!)

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

I haven't had that problem except maybe during the healing after it was implanted. It may be that you are sensitive to whatever they use to disinfect the area prior to the "harpoon".  I'd ask a nurse or doctor about it.  

I lived in Houston, Texas for 20 years.  I learned to like country music, wear cowboy boots and hats, go to the rodeo and drink tequila shots Laughing.




Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3666
Joined: May 2012


When I went for infusions, the nurse always asked me "Do you use the spray or the cream ?"  Since I had always had the aerosol spray applied to deaden the area, I replied "spray" (it made the area feel very cold, I recall).

My oncology group also had, however, a take-home cream to apply to the port area to prevent issues.  It was used by some patients as an alternative to the spray.  I would think that most likely your nurse would be familiar with this product. If not, I could call and ask about it.


allmost60's picture
Posts: 3184
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi Rocquie,

 Every so often my port will itch, so to avoid scratching or rubbing it, I apply a small dab of Neosporin and then cover with a small spot bandaid. I think mine gets irriated by certain clothing, but I'm just guessing. Hope the itch is short lived. Love....Sue

(Follicular NHL-stg-grd2-typA-Dx 6/10-age 63) In remission

Rocquie's picture
Posts: 856
Joined: Mar 2013

Jim--Yee Haw. 

Max, that is very sweet of you to offer to call about the numbing cream. I'll ask my nurse about it.

Sue, the itch is gone, but the sweaters I was wearing surely didn't help. As you suggested, I covered it and at least it kept me from scratching it.

Last but not least, thank you to John (I know you are reading) for giving me the heads up about that spray!

Best to all,



lindary's picture
Posts: 709
Joined: Mar 2015

Hi Rocquie

I never had that problem with my port in the 3+ years I had it. However the nurses always just cleaned the area and then put the needle in. Nothing was used to numb the area. 

po18guy's picture
Posts: 1194
Joined: Nov 2011

The night before, I apply OTC cortisone cream to the area that the port dressing will contact. The morning of, I apply Benadryl cream  to that same area. That seems to handle all concerns about itching. As well, some of the wipes that the RNs use to help peel the dressing off contain naphtha - a flammable pertoleum distillate(!). From the Wiki: "a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum,coal tar, or peat boiling in a certain range and containing certain hydrocarbons. It is a broad term covering among the lightest and most volatile fractions of the liquid hydrocarbons in petroleum. Naphtha is a colorless to reddish-brown volatile aromatic liquid, very similar to gasoline." Surprised

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2021

Hi all! I have a chronic condition that has led to me having 2 ports, full time, through almost 20 years. Wow! Now that I think of it.. where has all the time gone? 

Those years have led to some itchy port moments: developing an adhesive reaction and needing to keep trying new brands of tape or dressings, when the infusion “leaks” under my skin and not infused into the tubing, when bodies change size, after surgery, after certain meds, exposure to different fabrics, dry skin, and the great “who knows why“ reason... 

I realize this is old but hope others can continue to benefit from the post. “I just hope y’all can understand....” ;) 

Anonymous user (not verified)

I thinks it's the Chlorhexadine they use to clean your skin with before they insert the port.... I have had two ports and two PICc lines and I have adhesive allergies... so I always  blamed the adhesives. Until i was about to rip my PICc line out so they had to come up with a solution quick. So they thought duh she's probably allergic to the Chlorhexadine. So the nurse washed the area and re dressed it and after a few days, voila no itching. Ask them to clean your skin with alcohol only or something like iodine prep, if they ask to use soap and water mixture or hibiclens, say no bc thode have small amounts of Chlorhexidine in them as well and if your as sensitive to it as I am, you will still have a reaction. 

I hope this helps.

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2021

I used a topical cream that has lidocane in it that was perscribed by my oncologist 1 hour before I have my port accessed to numb the area so I do not need any additional numbing at the cancer center or hospital.  I also ask for a patch that goes over my port after it has been accessed that is made for sensitive skin.  This has really helped me with irratation of my skin around the port area.  


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