NOV 14, 2016 07:32 PM PST

Scratch that! Why do we itch?


Of course there are reasons for some of our itches. There are the bug bites and the poison ivies and the chicken pox and the eczema, even the tickling of a hair on your face. There are also the brain tumors and diabetes and chemotherapy. (Not to make you paranoid.) But what about all those itches that just seemingly appear out of nowhere?

In a 2013 study published in the journal Science, researchers found that itching is linked to a set of neurons that produce a neuropeptide called NPPB (natriuretic polypeptide B). Although it's a step in the right process to figure out why, we can't just inhibit NPPB to stop ourselves from itching because the peptide is also released by the heart to regulate the amount of sodium released by the kidneys, which controls blood pressure (kind of important).

But realistically we probably shouldn't stop our itching anyway, as it's an evolutionary benefit that protects us from bugs and parasites. Itching can also be contagious (if I itch, you itch) and even just talking (or reading) about itching can make you itch! Feeling itchy?
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
How a Venus Flytrap Works
Most people think of plants as being at the bottom of the food chain, but the Venus Flytrap defies this oversimplified way of thinking by devouring meat. W...
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
Greenland's Summer Melt Helps Scientists Track Sea Level Rise
This summer, the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced a significant melting event not seen since 2002, mainly due to the heatwave that swept through most of Eur...
NOV 12, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 12, 2019
Here's Why NASA Wants to Crash a Spacecraft Into an Asteroid
Yes, you read that right; NASA would like to slam a purposefully built spacecraft into the surface of an asteroid. While this idea might seem like a substa...
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
Pesticides Plague Great Barrier Reef Waterways
Based on parameters set by the Australian and Queensland Governments, a significant pesticide reduction target for waters entering for the Great Barrier Re...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
The Penguin Life Isn't Always Easy
Mother nature isn’t kind to wildlife; many assume their position as either the prey or the predator depending on the cards they’re dealt. Unfor...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
Have You Heard of the World's Most Trafficked Animal?
If you were asked what the world’s most trafficked animal was, what would you say? If you answered pangolin, then you’d be correct. Most people...
Loading Comments...