Itching and tingling post craniotomy

Hi everyone, just wondering if anyone has had itching tingling and even sometimes feel like electric shock sensations close to where the craniotomy was? I’ve been very itchy 3months post craniotomy. Thanks

Good morning! I’ve switched your post from “new members” to “general”.

Haven’t had a craniotomy, but I’ve almost severed some nerves and had some cut for different surgeries. The itching can drive one batty when they start healing. I know our folks who’ve had one will come on and share their experience.

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Hey Anita,
Yes, Yes, and Yes and it darn near drove me crazy. I’ve had a few neurosurgeries. For the craniotomy the incision runs from my (former) hair line to the centre of my crown. I’ve also had a few shunt surgeries where they separate the scalp from the skull, the incision for that runs 8inch around behind my ear. The theory I was given was that once the incision wound has healed the itch would cease but that was not the case, not the case at all. In fact where they separated the scalp from the bone gave me worse issues as it felt like the itch was underneath the scalp, if that makes any sense.

Here’s how the acute sensation/electric shocks were explained to me. They have cut your scalp and severed the nerves. When they stapled the skin back together they try to make sure the hair follicles are on the outside. But to do this the exposed surface has those severed nerves, any sensation over those exposed nerves is to the EXTREME, like an electrical shock and yea, I mean like OMG intense.
But I was also having these shocks without any change in sensation as well, I thought of this pain as more a nerve type pain and a ‘Pain Clinic’ Dr told me that often with scalp nerves such ‘sparks’ can be the nerves trying to re establish new pathways. I must admit that now, years later, it’s not often I have scalp pain and it wasn’t a case of one day I had scalp pain and the next it was gone but rather the frequency and severity reduced over time.

If you pain is scalp related and… …WITH A MEDICAL DR"S CONSULT there are some creams/salves available for wound care. They can help soften the scarring, help with itching and assist the healing process. Now, I say “…WITH A MEDICAL DR"S CONSULT…” and this is VERY important as the very last thing you want is to compromise the wound by using an inappropriate/unapproved treatment. Your local herbal shop may have some wonder potion they swear by, but get the OK from a medical dr, just to be safe.

When it comes to healing an itch is often seen as a good sign of the healing process, but if you are unsure, consult your dr.

Hope it helps
Merl from the Modsupport Team

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Thank you so much Meri for all that info!!

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I’m 2.5 months out from my craniotomy and I still have a lot of numbness near my incision at the top part of my head. I’m starting to get sensation back and it is a mix of itching and tingling. I keep getting what I call phantom itches. I can feel the itch, but I can’t scratch it. My doc did tell me it would take a few months to get feeling back.


I am 4months out and yes I have had a lot of feeling coming back! Thank god!! The itching is back further from my stitches… like the crown area and my stitches are more towards the front of my hairline. I believe it is the nerve regeneration which makes sense because I have got “A LOT” of feeling back. Thanks for your feedback- Anita

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yep. And isn’t it a strange sound when you scratch over the procedure sight! It will be a year in December since my craniotomy and it seems to be less itchy for sure.


When I had a carpal tunnel release surgery, one of the post op things they got me to do was to gently “scratch” the scar and/or stimulate the area by subjecting my hand to different textures to re-acclimatize the nerves to stimulation (and, I guess to give scale to the sensations) to teach me to recognise normal stimulation levels. Do neurosurgeons ever make similar recommendations about stimulating the scalp where incisions have been made? I’m just thinking that for external stimuli it might do a bit of good in a similar way as for the hand.

The reason given with carpal tunnel release surgery is the sensitivity of the hand and the multitude of nerves thereabouts: it is important to stimulate them to “recalibrate” in some way.

I can say that post CTR surgery, i was having quite exaggerated sensations such as you’re describing. The simulation seemed to help.

And when I say “scratch”, initially it would have been very gentle, with just the pads of my fingers. Later I used to actually scratch a bit more with fingernails, just to the level of stimulation (not damaging my skin).

I don’t know about craniotomy scars, but I do know my other neurosurgeon told me not to scratch or rub the nice long scar from my lower lumbar surgery. It might have been four months or so out that he said I could use Vitamin E oil but that was after he and my PT said it healed enough. If I recall correctly many members are told not to scratch their scar from a craniotomy. I’ll be interested to see what members have been told!

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“Scratch” is not really the right word but it’s the closest I can come up with. I’d think that brushing your hair would give a degree of stimulation which is kind of the level I’m talking about. I can honestly say that diverse stimulations were recommended for my hand (I think plunging into rice or lentils was one) and it definitely helped.

Maybe lightly rub instead of scratch? I would do that around the scar but not directly on it for my back. I sure wish a member who has had a craniotomy would respond, I’m really curious!