The skin itches for a variety of reasons. Though it can be more of an annoyance, the skin could be signaling the brain for a more serious cause. Whether the skin is itching due to the dry effects of winter air, or you are experiencing itching in new or even old scars, or something more serious, we at The Skin and Body Refinery would like to take the opportunity to discuss the itchiness of skin.
Pruritus; Severe Itching of the Skin
Medically known as pruritus, an itch the irritation of skin cells or nerve cells associated with the skin, an otherwise generalized and common sensation. Much like other skin sensations including touch, pain, vibration, cold and heat, pruritus serves as an important sensory and self-protective mechanism, despite the nuisance. It can become unbearable in some cases if not properly treated as it can alert us to harmful external agents.
Causes of Pruritus
In some diseases that affect the entire body, pruritus is a dominant symptom of many skin diseases. Due to stimulation of pruriceptors, an itching sensation of the skin arises can stem from itch-sensing nerve endings by way of mechanical, thermal or chemical mediators; such examples include:
– The acetylcholine and serotonin (neurotransmitters).
– Creating the sensation of pain in spinal nerve cells, Prostaglandins, or lipids, are the cause.
– Pain-regulating messengers, or Neuropeptides, are released within the brain, such as endorphins for example.
– Chemicals for immune pain relief (opiods) and response (histamines).
Typically related to inflammation, dryness or other damage to the skin, mucous membranes or conjunctiva of the eye are stimulated by these agents.
Stop Scratching Itchy Skin!
C-fibers are specialized nerve cells that are activated in general, of the pruriceptors by pruritus. Comprising about 5% of the total C-fibers in human skin, they are functionally distinct and only convey the itch sensation, though they are identical to those associated with the sensation of pain. These C-fibers, when stimulated superficially on the skin, carry signals along the nerve to the spinal cord and on to the brain that when processed, generate a rubbing or scratching response. By stimulating various pain and touch receptors in the same areas, scratching and rubbing then interfere with the sensations arising from pruriceptors. Potentially resulting in an infection, scratching, to relive the itch, offers only temporary relief and may cause the skin to become further irritated and possibly tear.
There is not a single effective antipruritic treatment. There are several topical and orally-administered agents available that suppress itching in certain clinical settings, despite nearly a century of pruritus research. Lotions and creams such as calamine and hydrocortisone, along with antihistamines, opioid antagonists, aspirin and ultraviolet light therapy are included in the treatments.
Why Do Scars Itch When Healing or Years Later?
Scars have a tendency to itch as well. Fresh scars are typically itchy as they endure the healing process, and if you are not careful, you can prolong the healing process with excessive scratching. Older scars, particularly deep surgical scars, which periodically itch, are doing so due to cell re-growth.
Skin Analysis & Treatment Recommendations in Waco, Texas
In many cases, the itchy skin could be due to dryness. With moisturizers and day spa services, your skin can be properly hydrated and deliver a healthy glow. If you are experiencing itchy and dry skin, come see the professionals of The Skin and Body Refinery where we will assess and evaluate your skin and present optimal solutions. Contact us today!