How to soothe itching

The medical term used for itching is Pruritas. Although we all itch sometimes, the most important symptom of itching can’t be seen by the naked eye.  Scientists and doctors have been under the assumption that pain and itching travels via the same neural pathway, but research has shown that this is not the case.  Itching uses its own pathway.  The nerves responsible for the itching sensation are your body’s tiny C-fiber nerves.  These are the tiniest nerves in your body and it travels right up to your skin.  It is activated by either internal or external irritants like immune-system cells or something like a mosquito bite.  Your body then releases histamine and this binds to the nerve endings, sending a signal to your brain that your skin needs attention.


Three tricks to break the urge to itch

  1. Cool down the C-fiber nerves.  Do this by applying ice to the affected area.  The cold will make the nerve endings sluggish in sending “scratch here” signals.
  2. Fool your brain.  Wherever the itch is, scratch the same part of your limb but on the opposite side.  Somehow this tricks your brain because nerves that run up on one side of your body also run up on the other side.
  3. Don’t pay attention to the itch.  Play a game or try to solve a crossword puzzle.  Research has shown that if you re-occupy your mind with something that requires all of your attention it reduces the urge to itch and it might even go away.


How to stop the itch of a mosquito bite

The female mosquito is responsible for the itchy bites. The males feed on plants and other insects and are also larger in size.

The female mosquito is responsible for the itch we hate so much.  She pumps her ant-coagulant (blood thinning) spit into your skin as she sucks your blood to ingest protein to feed her developing eggs.  This sets of a chain reaction in your body starting with your immune cells attacking the foreign substance.  Then it’s histamine’s turn.  This inflammation causing chemical is responsible for the redness and swelling that normally goes along with a mosquito bite.

Do this: Put ice on the bite to quell swelling and dull the itch nerves.  If that doesn’t work, get some over the counter topical ointment.  If you have a somewhat allergic reaction to mozzie bites then you might want to take some anti-histamine as well to reduce the swelling, itching and redness.

Author: Shaun De Kock

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