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Why and how do body parts itch?

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Update time : 2020-08-10 15:51:10
Should I scratch my itchy skin? No please don't

Some of the most unthinking habits we have can cause the most damage to our skin. For example, tickling. This is one of the subconscious movements that you rarely think about. If your skin is itchy, you will scratch it. You may not even realize this is happening when you tickle.

There are many reasons for itchy skin, including dermatitis, insect bites, dry skin, liver disease, and many others. Itching may also be harmless, caused by irritation of the skin on the label on the shirt. In any case, this may be an interesting phenomenon you never thought of. If you often have itching, it will definitely affect your skin.

What is itching? Why does tickling improve the situation?


Scientists once believed that itching was just a mild pain, and it had the same way of acting as pain. It was not until 1987 that the German scientist H.O. Handwerker conducted histamine experiments that were overthrown. They use histamine to cause itching. Participants will feel more and more itchy until they can't stand it. However, the strange thing is that they did not feel pain, which means that itching and pain work in different ways.

When scientists use histamine on the skin of monkeys, nerve cells in the spinal cord that represent itching will be activated. When the researchers scratched near the injection of histamine, the nerve activity immediately stopped. Another study of the human brain using MRI found that tickling actually reduces the brain's recall of unpleasant memories or negative emotions and stimulates the parts of the brain that process pain.

Both studies have shown a deep connection between the brain and itching (Science Daily).

Why are we itching like this?


However, just as important as what causes itching is why we feel itchy. This is a little difficult. Scientists believe that this may be an adaptive evolution to explain our many quirks.

The reason why itching is so sensitive is to quickly warn people of the potential hazards of plants that may cause inflammation or insects that may be deadly. For example, mosquitoes carrying many different potentially fatal diseases have a feather-like tactile sensation. Think of itching as an evolved alarm system that tells our body to respond to things on the skin (St. Louis Magazine).

Since our ancestors may not be able to avoid these stimuli, it is advantageous to be able to use tickling to attract attention and deal with them. This way, things that cause itching can be avoided before they cause harm.

Why you need to be careful: the more you scratch the cycle

Scratching can relieve itching, but it can also cause itching. This is the cycle of scratching and itching. When you scratch your skin excessively, you destroy mast cells, a kind of immune cell stability. This will release histamine, which means it will cause you to feel itchy. Therefore, while scratching will help relieve itching, excessive scratching can actually make it worse (Trends in Neuroscience).

Continued scratching will tear and destroy the skin. If it is too severe, it may cause infection. If things go on like this, this will also cause the skin to thicken and darken. As you have learned, the more itchy cycle can cause damage to the skin, so it is best to avoid scratching when itchy. Fortunately, we have other feasible methods. First of all, if the itching is very severe or occurs for no reason, please consult a doctor. This may be an early warning of a potential situation. Be sure to use, for example, moisturizer to keep your skin moisturized, especially in winter.

If you feel itchy, wash your skin with warm water, or consider using some soothing products. Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching. Or take oral antihistamines to suppress the histamine reaction. Try applying cold compresses to the affected area. Wear loose clothing. Distract the attention drawn by the itching to avoid scratching.