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Why Do We Itch?

Suppose you’re driving a bike with the helmet on and suddenly you feel an itch on the back of your head, we all experience the annoyance of the inconvenient itch, but have you ever wondered why do we itch?

Let’s figure it out

The average person experience dozens of individual itches each day. They can be triggered by all sources of things including allergic reactions, dryness and even some diseases and then there are some mysterious one that pops up without any reasons.

Few common sources which cause itch:

Bug Bite
Contact dermatitis
Dry skin
Allergic eczema
Psoriasis
Ringworms
Cirrhosis
Harmful chemicals in soap products.
Shellfish allergies
Dog allergies etc.

Let’s take one of the most common sources it-

Bug bite: When a mosquito bites you, it releases a compound into your body called anticoagulant, this compound is allergic to your body and it triggers the release of histamine (a chemical that makes our capillary swell) this enables increase in blood flow which helpfully accelerates the body immune response to the affected area, histamine also activates the nerves involved in itching which is why we scratch the affected area.

The itchy sensation itself isn’t yet fully understood in fact much of the things we know comes from the study of mechanics of itching in mice. Researchers have discovered that itch signals in their skin are transmitted via a subclass of the nerves that are associated with the pain, these dedicated nerves produce a molecule called Natriuretic Polypeptide B which triggers the signal that’s carried up the spinal cord to the brain where it creates the feeling of an itch.

When we scratch, the action of our fingernail on the skin causes a low-level pain signal that overwrites the itchy sensation it’s almost like a distraction which creates the sensation of relief.

Phantom itching: It occurs in patients that have amputation, because the injury has damaged the nervous system, it confuses the body normal nerve signaling and creates sensation in limbs that are no longer there, it gets treated by using mirror which reflects the remaining limbs, which the patient scratches that creates an illusion in the brain that the imaginary itch has been satisfied.

Tips for scratching an itch:

Don’t scratch the itch with your long nails ( i.e- always try to keep your nails as short as possible), it might create a burning sensation and make that portion of the skin rougher. Instead, rub, tap, hold or gently pinch the affected area.

How to get rid of itching:

Avoid “itch triggers” whether it is your school uniform or formal uniform or a certain cleaning and cosmetic product always choose what suits the best on your skin, don’t copy the cleaning and cosmetic products of anyone else because it might be possible the product that suits them might be allergic to you.

Apply lotion once in a day as there are fewer chances of a moisturizing skin to be itchy.
Avoid dry skin, don’t take shower for too long.

Avoid physical contact with an infectious person who is having an itch.