Why scratching makes your itch worse??



Has it ever crossed your mind to wonder why scratching an itchy spot makes the itch become worse? The funniest thing is that an itch is neither painful nor sweet. It is the true definition of an ‘indescribable feeling’ more like a sweet pain. But what is it that happens to the body that makes it become worse when you scratch?

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Well, scratching an itch forces the brain to release a certain neurotransmitter called serotonin. This neurotransmitter serves two purposes- regulation of mood and controlling pain. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine suggested that it is this neurotransmitter (serotonin) that intensifies the itchy sensation.
It has been known from previous research that scratching causes a mild amount of pain in the skin. This pain interferes with the itch though temporarily. This interference is caused by the fact that while scratching, the nerve cells carry signals of pain to the brain instead of the itch signals. The problem comes in at the point where the brain responds by secreting the serotonin to control the pain from the scratch.
Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen, the senior investigator, pointed out that the neurotransmitter has a jumbling effect on the sensation of the itch and pain. As the serotonin spreads from the brain and down the spinal cord, the pain-sensing neurons react by increasing the intensity of the itch.

Why scratching makes your itch worse
The research found something interesting about itching. The scratching does not really relieve the itchy sensation. Dr. Chen said that in chronic conditions of itching, there is not much of pleasure or reward that comes out of the scratching. Apparently, the main objective of the scratching is to induce pain that will inhibit itching. “It is more like choosing the lesser of two evils as pain and itch are hostile to the body naturally,” said Dr. Chen.
In simpler terms what was concluded from the research is that the more itching one feels, the more the pain they would want to produce to counter this itch. The result is that you will simply continue itching. This is more so the case with skin conditions such as eczema, which encourage people to scratch to relieve the itchy sensation.
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