Occasional Itch May Be Beneficial - Itch Insight
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Occasional Itch May Be Beneficial

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Occasional Itch May Be Beneficial

Why do we Itch?

Useful Resources to help you understand your Itch

Occasional Itch May Be Beneficial

Itch is defined as an uncomfortable sensation that causes a desire to scratch. What is the advantage of scratching?

It is widely believed that scratching related to itching is protective against various parasites and infestations. Scratching is a reflex in response to itching. This mechanical reflex seems to make one less susceptible to infestations.  For example, scabies is caused by a tiny mite that burrows into the skin and lives for a long period.

Patients who are elderly and immobilized are at particularly high risk for scabies, presumably due to a limited ability to mount a robust mechanical reflex. Similarly, lice are small insects that feed on human blood. Infestations are contagious and can be passed on through close contact with an infested person and sometimes through items such as clothing or bedding that they used. There are a few signs that may indicate the presence of a parasite or infestation. If you have bites that are clustered together, this could be a sign of bedbugs. If you have intense itching and notice a a scabbed rash in the navel, groin and/or armpits, this could be a sign of scabies. If you suspect you are dealing with a parasite or infestation, it’s important to see a dermatologist so that they may properly diagnose and treat the problem.

Treatment and management is dependent on the kind of infestation. Scabies requires treatment and washing and drying clothing at high heat. Bed bugs can require extermination from the environment.

What is Itch & Scratch?

Itch is a sensation that many people experience yet don’t understand. The philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) recorded one of the first known descriptions of itch, characterizing how animals scratch themselves in a manner similar to modern humans.