NOV 14, 2016 7:32 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
DEC 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 22, 2019
How Astronomers Measure Distances to Stars
Extra stellar systems are so far away from our own that we couldn’t even hope of developing a tape measure long enough to determine how far away they...
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
Why NASA's Artemis Mission is So Important
If you’ve been following NASA, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about the American space agency’s Artemis mission. Artemis is all about laun...
DEC 30, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 30, 2019
Are Blue Animals Truly Blue?
Animals come in all sorts of colors, and while the animal kingdom has most of the rainbow’s colors at its disposal, there are a few exceptions. Some...
JAN 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 21, 2020
Here's Why SpaceX Blew Up a Falcon 9 Rocket in Mid-Air
SpaceX completed a substantial milestone for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program this week, an undertaking that involved one of the commercial space compa...
JAN 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 22, 2020
Astronomers Have Found the Farthest Galaxy Group
An international team of astronomers funded in part by NASA has found the farthest galaxy group identified to date.  The trio of galaxies, called EGS7...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
Just How Powerful is a Piece of Space Debris?
One of the most commonly discussed topics in space science today is the space junk problem, in which space junk collides with objects to create space debri...
Loading Comments...