• Question: What makes you itch?

    Asked by peter296 to Tommy, Simon, Rory, Roisin, Ollie, Min, Israel, Caoimhe on 28 Apr 2020.
    • Photo: Simon Spichak

      Simon Spichak answered on 28 Apr 2020:

      Our body has an amazing immune system and it functions to tell us when there might be something harmful in our environment. Sometimes, people might be extra sensitive to pollen or something else in the environment. When this happens, it releases a signalling molecule called histamine – which causes itching and redness. But if we scratch our itch, we might feel even itchier! This is because we are activating our pain receptors when we scratch this itch, and it releases a chemical from our brain called serotonin which will make it itchier! We might also spread the allergen by scratching over a larger area! There are a few much rarer kinds of itching as well.

      Sometimes, people might get an itch due to dysfunction in their nervous system. After a stroke or other big insults/injuries to this system, we may feel a constant itch despite not having any immune reaction to something we might be allergic to.

      Sometimes we might get something called psychogenic itch – it is often associated with stress but we’re not actually sure what causes it.

    • Photo: Min Yap

      Min Yap answered on 28 Apr 2020:

      It’s our body’s response that is often triggered by a chemical in our body called histamine. When someone gets an allergic reaction to pollen, food or medications, histamine is released by the body and can cause itchiness and even redness when you get an insect bite.

    • Photo: Tommy Hayden

      Tommy Hayden answered on 30 Apr 2020:

      Hi Peter

      I can’t really add anything meaningful to the answers below – no point me trying to start from scratch…

      Thanks for the question regardless