Itchy? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Scratch

A new study proves what your mom always said: Scratching an itch only makes it worse.

Scratching your skin causes a slight pain, which actually interferes with itching by sending pain signals to the brain. But the serotonin your brain produces to help control the pain can become sidetracked from pain-sensing neurons, going instead to nerve cells that influence the intensity of the itch, according to the study in the journal Neuron. And that can make the itching more intense.

The best solution? Ignore the urge to scratch, say the researchers at Washington University of Medicine, who worked with mice for the study.