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The itchy and the scratchy

If you have an itch, what could you do but scratch it?

Researchers have investigated all things itch, including the relationship of itch and acne, eczema, and dry skin; how an itch can be felt on the body and in the mind; and how the brain reacts to scratching.

It may seem strange to devote so much effort to a small thing like an itch. You just scratch it and it goes away, right? Not so for some people. Itch can be a chronic, unbearable burden for people with certain skin conditions or other underlying conditions.

Many itches originate on the skin, some spring from disorders of the nervous system, and still others are creations of our minds. We most often get the urge to itch because of things that happen on the surface of our skin, like allergic reactions, dryness, or insect bites. Sometimes a rash accompanies a skin itch, but not always. Other itches stem from internal causes. Kidney failure, liver disease such as hepatitis, thyroid conditions, and some neurological disorders may cause an itchy sensation.

The common link between all the different sorts of itches? The undeniable reflex to scratch. However, scratching relieves the itch only temporarily. Like pain, an itch causes a reflex reaction. But whereas pain triggers the reflex to pull away draw back from it, an itch draws you right to where it lives – and then you scratch! But starting to scratch can set off a vicious cycle of itch-scratch-itch-scratch that can not only irritate but damage the skin.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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