Barcelona was brilliant. Fresh with the excitement of Spain’s World Cup glory, the atmosphere we were greeted with was electric. The only negative thing we encountered were the bites, oh the awful bites…
It seems the locals weren’t the only ones out celebrating; the flies were out in force as well. Yes, each one of us got our comeuppances for parading around the town in shorts and t-shirts. We were covered in bites, head to toe, and my god they where itchy!
And so began a communal scratching of the heads and the debate ensued…
Why do we scratch an itch even though it makes it worse?
Everyone had an opinion:
“Because we want to remove the irritant and satisfy the itch for a moment before it comes back with a vengeance” ~Kevin
“Two words: instant gratification” ~Ellen
“Because it feels so damn good! Sometimes a good itch is just what the doctor ordered” ~Mark
Well guys, we have the answer… (but unfortunately no real solution, well besides Michelle’s plea for us to “man up” and just stop itching!)
Yes, it seems that at the crux of our desire to scratch an itch is histamine, a chemical issued by most cells in our skin. Whatever the problem, a flea bite or prickly heat, if mast cells are on the case, they release histamines. It’s our body’s way of saying “check this out!” Histamines signal to immune cells to infiltrate the injured site and tackle the problem. At the same time they trigger nerve cells in the skin. The nerves send a message to the brain that says “ok guys, get scratching.” And until the mast cells are switched off, we just can’t stop!
Now you know…