Via GeoBeats News: Whenever a person scratches an itch to relieve that pesky sensation, it always comes back. Scientists believe they’ve figured out why.
An international team of researchers including at the Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri conducted experiments on mice to determine what causes the itching cycle.
Normal mice, and those that have been genetically modified to not produce serotonin, were used. When injected with a skin-irritating chemical, the mice without serotonin didn’t scratch at all.
The normal mice were given a serotonin blocking treatment that also caused them not to scratch when inflicted with the same bothersome chemical.
Researchers found the desire to scratch an itch doesn’t occur until serotonin from the brain reaches the irritation.
The reason behind the itching and scratching cycle is when we scratch an itch, it sends pain signals to the brain, which then interrupt the itch signals.
The sensation of pain causes the release of yet more serotonin to help control it, but this in turn makes the itch return, causing the seemingly endless cycle.
Unfortunately for those suffering from chronic itching caused by illness for example, blocking the release of serotonin isn’t a viable option, as the neurotransmitter helps with mood control, growth and bone metabolism.
For those with acute but annoying conditions such as those brought on by poison ivy or a mosquito bite, anti-histamines can bring relief.
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