All About Itches
All About Itches
Daniel Behroozan (Dermatologist) gives expert video advice on: What is an 'itch'?; What's the connection between histamine and itching?; When does itching indicate a serious condition? and more...
What is an 'itch'?
Well, an itch is really any stimulus in the skin, and specific to the skin, and that stimulus is transmitted to the brain, and then that causes a reflex reaction in the patient or in the person to scratch the skin, and that's what we define an itch as.
What's the connection between histamine and itching?
There's a very simple connection between histamine and itching. In the blood there are certain cells that will release histamine when stimulated, that will then activate nerves in your skin, that will transmit a message to your brain that there is an itch, and your brain will then cause you to scratch.
When does itching indicate a serious condition?
Itching can be a very simple condition that is usually caused by a simple vibratory stimulus in the skin, a change in the temperature, a light touch of a feather. When itching progresses and is uncontrollable or does not stop, that can lead to you thinking that it may be a much more serious condition.
Does itching ever indicate skin cancer?
There are certain kinds of skin cancers that can itch. There is one kind of skin cancer that is called contanious T-cell lymphoma. That is a blood cancer that spreads to the skin that can cause diffuse itching all over the body. But the usually skin cancers that we think about such as basal cell carcinoma, spin cell carcinoma, or melanoma usually do not itch. They are usually growths in the skin that often bleed.
When is it not OK to scratch an itch?
When it's not okay to scratch an Itch is first of all when you're making the Itch worse by continually scratching and irritating your skin more or if you're breaking down the skin for any reason, causing an ulcer or an infection. That's probably not okay to scratch an Itch and you should stop. Unfortunately, sometimes you can't help yourself because it's a never ending cycle where you scratch and you itch and you scratch and you Itch. So, at that point you need to seek the help of a doctor to help you break that cycle.
What type of doctor should I see about an itch?
Generally speaking, if you have an access to a dermatologist, the dermatologist is the expert in skin rashes and itching. If you can't, you can start with seeing your regular doctor, internist or family doctor who can initiate treatment. But if your treatment is not helping your itching, you should definitely seek the care of a dermatologist.