Why Scratching Feels So Good – And Why It’s Important to Stop.

Any time your skin itches your first instinct is to scratch. Scratching that itch can feel good, but the relief won’t last very long. No matter if the cause of the itch is from a bug bite, an illness, or from a persistent skin condition, scratching is no remedy, and can prolong your misery.

What Is an Itch?

In medical terms, an itch is called “pruritus,” and it occurs when skin or nerve cells become irritated. It is another of your body’s protective sensations that can indicate a problem. If you are bitten by an insect or have rubbed against poison ivy, your skin can react with an itch. Other causes of itching include infections like chickenpox, medications, skin conditions like psoriasis, parasites, allergic reactions, age, and more.

Why Scratching an Itch Makes It Worse

Have you ever noticed that the more you scratch an itch, the more it seems to itch? It’s not your imagination – it really does work that way. Scratching sends your brain a pain sensation, which distracts it from your itch. You can even feel better for a few moments, but you might notice, as many others do, that after you scratch one itch another itch occurs somewhere else on your body. If the pain sensation is strong enough, your brain might release serotonin to fight the pain, but that can intensify the itch. This can devolve into an unpleasant cycle of itch-scratch-itch. In worst-case scenarios people have scratched to the point their skin bleeds, which can lead to infection.

How to Relieve Your Itching Skin

Dry skin is one of the most common causes of itchiness. Avoiding hot water, which can rob your skin of its natural oils, is a simple remedy to try. Cleansing your skin with gentle soaps (no perfumes) and switching to skin care products that do not contain alcohol (another drying agent) can bring relief. Other tips include the application of moisturizer to your skin immediately following your 10-minute bath or shower while your skin is still damp and using a humidifier to keep the air inside your home moist. If your itching continues or worsens, be sure to contact us for an evaluation.

If you are suffering from chronic itching, it is very important to see your dermatology professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. There are many causes of itching, both intermittent and chronic, and a variety of recommended treatments. Seeking and finding the cause of your itching allows us to recommend a treatment that will bring you relief in the shortest amount of time.

Our caring professionals are available to help you with your dermatology issues. Call us today at (847) 381-8899 for an appointment at the location of your choice. We have locations in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Buffalo Grove, Crystal Lake, Elgin, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, McHenry, Naperville and Park Ridge.