Why do we itch?

What is itching?

It is a certain unpleasant, uneasiness and irritation in the human body.

Do scratch itch?

Yes, they do. They give a weird itchy unpleasant sensation.

Why do we itch on a scratch?

The itch sensation is also known as “Pruritus”. One of the major reasons for itching on a scratch is because it is the reflex that we have. It is basically the reaction to allergens and parasitic threats. Also, it is highly contagious. When our body witnesses someone scratching, it automatically takes up the habit.

What happens inside our body that causes us to itch?

A decade ago, an itch was considered as a less intense version of pain. Our body has an itch specificity nervous system that involves its own chemical and cells.

During scratching a low-level signal is send to the brain. And there is only one single universal response of itching which is scratching. Scratching generates a low-level pain signal that totally over-rides and covers up the itch signal. Brain’s reaction to this is that it releases some chemicals at the irritation sites. These chemicals like serotonin, tune down the intensity of pain /pain sensation. But it is known that this serotonin also allows to re-trigger the itch signal. This is the reason why we continue to itch again and again as the itch nerves get fired up again.

What is the itch-scratch cycle?

Doctors call this repeated cycle of itching and firing up nerves and again itching “scratch cycle”. It can get exhaustive. After many repeated cycles, the itch-sensing nerves may get damaged and that can cause itching without any actual presence of a stimulus.

What can one do to avoid scratching?

There are many ways to avoid scratching:

  • According to Greeks and Romans, Mineral bath and animal fat
  • Persians used silver
  • Menthol
  • Camphor, a chemical Evergreen trees
  • Anaesthetics
  • Counterirritants like capsaicin, extracted from Chili peppers
  • Antihistamines and steroid creams

Scratching can be highly intensive in nature. But itch doesn’t run just skin deep. It contains a sensation that reaches from the epidermis to the brain. However, it must be noted that there are numerous ways to overcome this issue.

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