NOV 14, 2016 07:32 PM PST

Scratch that! Why do we itch?

1 1 249

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
JUL 04, 2018
Videos
JUL 04, 2018
How Did Viruses Originate?
There is still a debate about whether or not viruses are a form of life, and we really don't know where they came from.
JUL 11, 2018
Videos
JUL 11, 2018
College Football Player Who Committed Suicide Had CTE
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is the talk of professional sports. From NFL players to ice hockey veterans, rugby teams, and soccer organizations,
JUL 28, 2018
Videos
JUL 28, 2018
23andMe Announces Partnership with Drug Company GSK
The collaboration aims to improve personalized therapeutics.
AUG 08, 2018
Videos
AUG 08, 2018
The Basics of Genetics
Get the lowdown on some basic concepts in genetics, and learn how the field got its start.
AUG 09, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
AUG 09, 2018
How a Ham Sandwich Helps You Understand Mathematics (and the Universe)
Mathematics is an abstract method to describe topics such as quantity, structure, and even space, which sometimes presents quite an obstacle for everyday f
AUG 10, 2018
Videos
AUG 10, 2018
Cannabis Compounds Used as Anti-Cancer Agent
The video below sites several studies done on cannabinoids and how they can be used as an anti-cancer agent. Cannabinoids have multiple properties tha
Loading Comments...