Question: What makes an itch? and why when scratch it relieves it?

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  1. Hey again jlim48, you’ve got some killer questions up your sleeve!

    An itch happens when something lands on you! It might be something like a bug, or it might be something so tiny you can’t even see it. You probably don’t even notice it at first, but what happens is the thing that lands on you rubs on your skin as you move. Evenutally it makes tiny microscopic scratches on the very top layer of your skin. When this happens, similar to how pain works, your body sends messages to and from your brain that there is something on you making you irritated! So as a way of defending yourself, your body makes an itchy signal! Then you scratch the itch and usually the thing that made it is removed by your scratching. Unfortunately, if you get a cut or something your body can’t tell it’s not just a tiny itch, so it still gets itchy, and you still want to scratch even though you can’t scratch away things like cuts! Crazy body!


  2. Hey jlim! Great questions you’re asking on the forums!

    Sam’s bang on about the scratch-response. We’re programmed pretty well to brush any strange things off ourselves if we feel tiny legs!

    But there are a whole heap of things that can cause an itch! Sometimes it’s chemical (like if you had a bad reaction to a plant or a mosquito bite) or because of temperature changes… There are even some medications that mess up the sensors that tell you when you’re itchy, so you feel itchy all the time! Not nice!

    It’s all to do with something kickstarting signalling chemicals in your brain to tell you to scratch that itch!

    Handy hint! If you get eaten by mosquitos like I do, don’t scratch the bites! Cover them with clear nailpolish or even sticky tape… If you can stop air getting to the bites, the chemical that makes you feel itchy doesn’t get made, so you don’t go crazy wanting to scratch!

    : )


  3. WOW! Just reading these responses by Sam and Eleanor made me itchy! WHY???? Sam and Eleanor are totally right! well done guys.
    Yeah sure bites and chemical will make you itchy but it turns out that itching can be contagious! You can get itchy just by watching someone else having a good scratch! Scientists believe that the human brain becomes hypersensitive when someone nearby is scratching! The itching becomes contagious, a little like yawning! Our brains misinterprets any kind of physical sensation on our skin as an itch. The volunteers that took part in this study scratched twice as much when watching someone else scratching on the video compared to the video of the person doing nothing!
    I don’t know about you guys but I was scratching like mad when I was reading these answers! Well done jlim48! Got me all itchy! 😛



  1. Haha I can imagine you with a sticky tape dispenser sitting a nice dinner on a back patio in the middle of summer, covering yourself and slapping away mozzies Eleanor!