Why Do You Itch?

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Health Editor’s Note: We all have had a time or times when we need our backs scratched.  That feels sooooo good!  There are lots of reasons for the need to scratch.  Scratching is not always a relief from the itch.  Find out why…..Carol

The Science of Itching and Why Scratching Feels So Good

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, PhD./ThoughtCo

Humans and other animals itch for a variety of reasons. Scientists believe the underlying purpose of the annoying sensation (called pruritus) is so we can remove parasites and irritants and protect our skin. However, other things can lead to itching, including drugs, diseases, and even a psychosomatic response.



  • Itching is a sensation the produces a desire to scratch. The technical name for an itch is pruritus.
  • Itching and pain use the same unmyelinated nerve fibers in the skin, but pain causes a withdrawal reflex rather than a scratching reflex. However, itching can originate in the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nervous system (skin).
  • Itch receptors only occur in the top two skin layers. Neuropathic itching can result from damage anywhere in the nervous system.
  • Scratching an itch feels pleasurable because the scratch fires pain receptors, causing the brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

How Itching Works

While drugs and disease typically stimulate itching because of a chemical response, most of the time the sensation is a result of skin irritation. Whether the irritation starts from dry skin, a parasite, an insect bite, or chemical exposure, the itch-sensing nerve fibers (called pruriceptors) ….Read More:

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Itching for no good reason is proof that:

    – “Intelligent design” is nonsense; or
    – “Intelligent design” was done by a malicious being.

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