Turns out your mom was right: scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at the Center for the Study of Itch at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation.
Itching is one of the most prevalent side effects of powerful, pain-killing drugs like morphine, oxycodone and other opioids. For many years, scientists have scratched their own heads about why the drugs so often induce itch while they are suppressing pain. Now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown they can control the opioid-induced itching without interfering with a drug’s ability to relieve pain.
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has launched its new Center for the Study of Itch, believed to be the world’s first multidisciplinary program designed solely to understand and treat itch. It was established to bring scientists and clinicians together to study the mechanisms that transmit the perception of itch and to translate those findings into better treatments for chronic sufferers.