Saturday, 7 December 2013

New Itch Nerves Discovered

Lets Target That Itch

It used to be said that itch is just a disguised form of pain.

It has been discovered recently that there are types of nerves whose only function is to detect itch and tell our brains about it. These nerves run from our spine to our skin. They aren't found any where else in the body. That's why you don't here people running around screaming "my gall bladder is soooooo itchy".

This discovery is extremely important because it means that medication can be designd to target these particular nerves and shut off the signal.

Until now we have had to rely on antihistamines and steroids to reduce the inflammation and itch sensation. Antihistamine does not address the itch message that is being sent to our brains from nerves that are activated by things other than histamine. Steroid, well I don't even want to talk about that right now.

The really cool thing about this discovery is that these nerves don't detect pain so shutting them off is not going to affect the protective nature of pain signals.

It seems that there are two independent itch circuits or maybe more. Some neurons detect itch, some detect pain and some detect both itch and pain. 

For me personally, pain and itch has always felt different. It would be so much easier to handle this itch if it was only pain! Pain doesn't require my constant attention and I can focuss on other things and just endure the pain. Itching requires my full attention. If I think about something else I will scratch the crap out of myself. Complete focused concentration!

I don't know how it works but running very hot water over my skin switches the itch to the completely calming sensation of pain. Ah that's better. Yes I know I may be burning myself but it feels so good!

Here's a link to the study
"These findings support the presence of functionally distinct sets of itch-generating neurons and suggest that targeted silencing of activated sensory fibers may represent a clinically useful anti-pruritic therapeutic approach for histaminergic and non-histaminergic pruritus."

So that's good news!

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