Lamictal & Itching and Numbness
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Q:  Lamictal & Itching and Numbness

My question is:  I have been taking 200 mg of Lamictal for approx 20 months.  Had hypothyroid (treated) and postpartum depression (4 years ago).  My dosage was increased to 300 mg about a year ago.  I had a LOT of confusion and just general dumbness on that dose.  My dr lowered it back to 200 and the dumbness went down some.  I have been having a lot of short term memory problems and it has somewhat debilitating.  It take me about five trips back and forth from my car in morning because I keep forgetting things (even if I have something laying out for me to take).  If you look at each forgetfullness episode, it does't seem that bad.  Collectively, though, it is SO frustrating and I spend a great amt of time looking for things,etc.  Is short term memory loss a side effect of Lamictal?

Based upon the "dumb" symptoms, I've asked the dr to wean me off of the lamictal and have just gone down to 150.  I have been having a lot of skin and tongue numbness and itching.  It almost feels like when I had an epidural during childbirth (massive itching that was relieved by Benadryl).  Do you think Benadryl will help?  Is the itching and numbness normal?  In the past, I've forgotten to take a dose (take every a.m.) and started experiencing numbness in my hands and feet by 3pm or so.  What do you think?

Dear Ann -- 
Starting with the "dumb" question (sorry, pun there not originally intended): right, I've seen patients feel slow or not sharp in their thinking on lamotrigine, and have trouble finding words for simple things, generally up around 400 mg and going away by lowering to 300. One patient had to lower to 200. I haven't heard from them about memory as much if at all.  So some aspects of what you describe sound familiar, but not the memory part so much and not the still-having-trouble-at-200 part; but I certainly agree with the need to figure out if that's coming from lamotrigine by lowering it further. 

As for the itching, no, haven't heard that one even once.  I tried searching lamotrigine itching but got what you would expect: all the entries I looked at were relating the itching to the rash that is so common on lamotrigine as it is started, so in the middle of all that it would be difficult to find an instance, if others had written about this, of itching when lamotrigine was lowered.  I have quite a few patients on lamotrigine and have not heard of this itching-if-I-miss-a-dose thing you've experienced. Sorry, not much to go on there. 

Dr. Phelps

Published October, 2005


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