why does it feel good to scratch an itch

When youБve got an, you probably want to scratch it. But whether itБs from a, or chronic skin issue like, any relief from scratching will be short-lived. And too much scratching can make the problem much worse. Your muscles, joints, and organs can hurt. But your
is the only part of your body that can feel both and itch. An itch can be triggered by something outside your body, such as, or by something happening on the inside, such as or. Though it feels good, scratching actually triggers mild pain in your skin. Nerve cells tell your something hurts, and that distracts it from the itch. It can make you feel better in that moment, but 1 in 5 people say scratching makes them itch somewhere else on their body. Sometimes the pain from scratching makes your body release the pain-fighting chemical serotonin. It can make the itch feel even itchier. ThatБs why the more you scratch, the more you itch. The more you itch, the more you scratch. This cycle can be tough to break, especially if your itch is really bad. Not all itches are alike.


Many happen when your body reacts to, nuts, and other allergens -- your makes a chemical called. Others come from a problem with your nervous system, like or a. With those, you might feel numbness and tingling along with the itch. If you have, your itching may feel more like burning. Some people compare it to being attacked by fire ants. Some, like one used to treat, cause a painful all-over itch. Whatever the reason, itБs important not to scratch too much. It can lead to skin wounds, infections, and scarring. It can also make you anxious and stressed. If you canБt take it and you simply must scratch, try not to use your fingernails. Instead, rub, pat, tap, or tightly hold the itchy area. You can also gently pinch your skin. Scratching an itch is the most satisfying instant relief available, but according to a from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, itБs actually just a mental scam: scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation. The more you scratch, the better you feel, and the more you need to scratch the itch.


Scratching, as most of us know, blocks the itching sensation, but doing so can cause pain, which temporarily distracts the brain from the itch. These pain signals are to the brain by nerve cells, similar to the ones that signaled the itch to begin with. The problem is that when the brain gets those pain signals, it responds by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin to help control that pain, said the studyБs senior author. But as serotonin spreads from the brain into the spinal cord, we found the chemical can jump the tracks, moving from pain-sensing neurons to nerve cells that influence itch intensity. So, to recap, you feel an itch based on nerve cells just existing and doing their thing. Then you scratch it, cooperatively, causing relief but also a little pain, which alerts your brain, respectfully, to make the pain stop. Then the resulting serotonin goes completely rogue and basically changes function from stopping pain to just having a good time, signaling that you actually like the itch kind of, and the whole thing starts again.


ItБs kind of like asking your roommate to help you clean, but as soon as she starts picking stuff up, she decides she actually likes this whole clutter is chill vibe. SheБd rather not know where your Apple remote is anyway, because itБs kind of leaving her with a lot more free time, and maybe sheБll just sit here and read a bunch of newspapers and magazines at the same time or eat a huge meal with a lot of bowls instead, just to keep making this worse. Except you canБt sigh angrily at serotonin, you just have to live with it. Blocking serotonin, however, is not the answer to itch relief, since the chemical is involved in much more important processes of growth, aging, and bone metabolism, is considered a Бfeel goodБ hormone. Blocking serotonin would therefore mess with everyday functions, like pain relief, and could have adverse effects on happiness Instead, Chen and his team went for even more specific territory, working on cells known as to find that the receptor known as 5HT1A was the key to activating the itch-specific GRPR neurons in the spinal cord.


We always have wondered why this vicious itch-pain cycle occurs, Chen. Our findings suggest that the events happen in this order. First, you scratch, and that causes a sensation of pain. Then you make more serotonin to control the pain. But serotonin does more than only inhibit pain. Our new finding shows that it also makes itch worse by activating GRPR neurons through 5HT1A receptors. While this information can undoubtedly be used to answer other questions within the body, your best bet for avoiding an itch cycle is still just not scratching. Recommended instant relief that wonБt set off tricky brain activity? Unscented lotions, coconut oil, and a gentler soap can all sooth your skin. If chronic itching persists, ask your doctor to check for signs of , or similar skin conditions. Related: Sex Ed 101: [#cneembed: script/playlist/55b1006261646d0fa4000002. js? autoplay=1 muted=1]

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