Does Cymbalta make your skin itch? (3+ reasons)

In this article, we will answer the question, “Does Cymbalta make your skin itch?” along with some research findings. We will also discuss the factors contributing to itchy skin while taking Cymbalta and measures to manage it. 

Does Cymbalta make your skin itch? 

Yes, Cymbalta can make your skin itch. If you are allergic to Cymbalta, you may experience itching. If you notice itching, skin rash, or any swelling, consult your physician immediately. 

It is not necessary for every person who takes Cymbalta to experience itching. The medical term for itching is pruritis, which is a rare side effect seen with the use of Cymbalta and other antidepressants.

Drug-induced pruritis can be resolved with discontinuation of the drug. If you notice any unwanted changes after taking Cymbalta, consult your physician and do not alter the course of your treatment without a physician’s guidance. 

What does the research suggest? 

Cymbalta is an antidepressant which belongs to the class of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Cymbalta increases the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine by inhibiting the reuptake transporters. Cymbalta is used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. (1)

Some individuals who are sensitive to a higher concentration of serotonin usually develop itching due to an increase in peripheral serotonin concentration. (2) Liver injuries caused by Cymbalta can show symptoms of itching. Hence, it is important to consult your physician for a proper evaluation and treatment. (3)

Antidepressants such as duloxetine, fluoxetine, sertraline, amitriptyline, doxepin, mirtazapine, etc, are used to treat chronic pruritis and in patients who do not respond to antihistamine treatment. (4)

What are the factors contributing to Cymbalta-induced itchy skin? 

There are other factors which can contribute to itchy skin while consuming Cymbalta, such as: 

Individual sensitivity: The response to Cymbalta varies among individuals; some may be sensitive to the effects of Cymbalta and develop side effects such as itchy skin. 

Dose: With an increased dose of Cymbalta the risk of side effects also increases, you may experience itchy skin while on a higher dose of Cymbalta. Which can be mitigated by reducing the dose. 

Drug interaction: Cymbalta may interact with other medications such as amphetamine, aspirin, tramadol, etc. Concomitant use of Cymbalta with this medication can increase its concentration in the body, leading to an increased risk of side effects. 

Concomitant medications: Use of concomitant drugs such as antipsychotics (olanzapine, phenytoin), other antidepressants, alprazolam, etc. can increase the serotonin levels in the body, contributing to the side effects caused by Cymbalta. 

Allergy: If you are allergic to certain foods, drugs, insect bites, etc., it can trigger an immune response, which can result in itching. 

Xerosis: Xerosis is a skin condition characterized by dry skin, which is caused by factors such as low humidity, use of harsh soaps, etc, which can result in itching.

Liver damage: Liver damage due to any disease or drug can contribute to itching. Cholestatic liver disease is usually accompanied by symptoms such as itching (pruritus) (5)

Underlying condition: Underlying conditions, such as autoimmune disease (lupus, dermatomyositis), blood disorders (polycythemia vera, lymphoma), inflammatory conditions (rheumatoid arthritis), stress and anxiety can also contribute to itching.

Skin conditions: Skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, hives, and fungal infections, can contribute to itching. Hence, it is important to know the cause before treating it. Make sure you consult your physician for a proper evaluation.  

How to manage itchy skin caused by the use of Cymbalta? 

If you are experiencing itching after consuming Cymbalta, make sure you consult your physician for a thorough evaluation of the cause and proper management. Your physician may reduce the dose or switch to another antidepressant. Do not discontinue or adjust the dose of the drug without a physician’s guidance to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Itching (pruritis) can be managed by over-the-counter medication, such as antihistamines (chlorpheniramine, brompheniramine, diphenhydramine, etc), which helps relieve itching. The use of antihistamines is associated with drowsiness, and some of the antihistamines can interact with Cymbalta. Consult your physicain before taking any OTC medication. 

Here are some tips to mitigate itching: 

  • Moisturize your skin every now and then to keep your skin hydrated, as dry skin can contribute to itching skin. 
  • Avoid hot water as it can dry out the skin and exacerbate itching. Consider taking a bath with lukewarm water. 
  • Use fragrance-free soaps, cleansers, and moisture that will not irritate your skin. Avoid using harsh soaps, which can cause your skin to become dry.
  • Avoid scratching, as it can worsen itching. Instead, try applying cold compression to the itchy area. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes, which will help reduce the friction and irritation on the skin. 
  • Drink an adequate amount of water every day to help you stay hydrated. 
  • Avoid sun exposure as it can exacerbate itching. Use sunscreen and protective clothing to minimize the exposure. 

What are the alternatives if Cymbalta causes itching? 

If Cymbalta is causing any unwanted side effects and affecting your day-to-day activities, you can choose to switch to other antidepressants such as: 

  • SSRI: citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline. 
  • SNRI: venlafaxine, milnacipran, desvenlafaxine, levomilnacipran. 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline, amoxapine, nortriptyline, imipramine. 
  • Atypical antidepressants: bupropion, mirtazapine, trazodone. 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): isocarboxazid, selegiline. 

Switching or discontinuation of any antidepressants needs careful monitoring and tapering of the drug over weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms and should be done under the guidance of a qualified physician. (6)

You can also consider other non-pharmacological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy, along with the medication to treat your illness more effectively. 

In my opinion, Cymbalta can cause itching in some individuals, but the incidence is rare. It is crucial to determine the underlying cause of itching before attempting to treat it, as there are numerous factors that can contribute to itching. Make sure you consult your physician for a proper evaluation and treatment if you are experiencing any unwanted side effects. 


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Reich A, Ständer S, Szepietowski JC. Drug-induced pruritus: a review. Acta dermato-venereologica. 2009 Mar 26;89(3):236-44. Available from: 


Reich A, Ständer S, Szepietowski JC. Drug-induced pruritus: a review. Acta dermato-venereologica. 2009 Mar 26;89(3):236-44. Available from: 


Kouwenhoven TA, van de Kerkhof PC, Kamsteeg M. Use of oral antidepressants in patients with chronic pruritus: A systematic review. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2017 Dec 1;77(6):1068-73. Available from:  


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Keks N, Hope J, Keogh S. Switching and stopping antidepressants. Australian Prescriber. 2016 Jun;39(3):76. Available from: 

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