What is an itch anyway? Scientists believe that itching is actually a form of pain transmitted by nerve fibers called cutaneous sensory neurons that are similar to those nerves that transmit pain. Therefore, the same stimulus that causes pain can cause an itch -- if it is experienced in a milder form. Anyone who has ever itched (and everyone has) knows that it feels like a tickle, but it can be quite an unpleasant and annoying tickle if it persists. Itching can also be "in your head." Sometimes just the thought of the word "itch" or the sight of someone else scratching can actually make a person itch. Itching may also be a nervous habit in some people.
What's wrong with scratching an itch? Scratching an itch may lead to more itching and more scratching and possibly an infection. People who experience itching, whether from dry weather, poison ivy or insect bites, should apply over-the-counter (OTC) topical drug products such as Lanacane® that effectively treat the particular type of itch they have. If these products don't work, or if the itching becomes more severe and lasts for more than a week, it’s best to contact a physician. Intense, severe itching can be the symptom of a more serious condition.
Does scratching an itch really feel good? Scratching an itch provides only temporary relief and unfortunately only leads to more itching. This is called the "itch-scratch-itch cycle" which can only make matters worse. Some scientists believe that scratching actually helps the body release pain-relieving endorphins, but this has not been proven, and scratching only provides temporary relief. Scratching may indeed scrape off a layer of skin, but this does not make the itch disappear, and losing layers of skin can lead to an infection.
What is the itch-scratch-itch cycle? Scratching an itch provides temporary relief and unfortunately leads to more itching. This is called the "itch-scratch-itch cycle" and is most definitely real, according to the itch experts. Since scratching only leads to more itching and potentially more serious secondary infections, breaking the itch-scratch-itch cycle can be an effective way to eliminate the problem.
Are all itches basically the same? And is there one ideal treatment? Itches are all different. The cause of the itch is important in determining treatment. For example, surface itching can be calmed by applying a topical anesthetic, such as benzocaine, which is found in products such as Lanacane® Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream. This will help numb the itch immediately, allowing the skin to heal by eliminating the need to scratch.
Is the summertime itchier than the winter? Although people in warm climates experience more bug bites and bee stings, fall and winter weather can result in dry skin that cracks and itches. The skin can lose its moisture and become red, scaly, irritated and itchy due to the low humidity outdoors and the dry air of heated homes. Moisturizing the skin regularly and applying a topical drug product can calm the itch.
What's the best way to treat an insect bite? With ice? Applying an ice pack will help reduce any swelling and, in turn, may reduce the itch temporarily. A topical anesthetic such as Lanacane® can help stop the itch. Remember, don't scratch -- it only leads to more itching and can end up in an infection.
Is it safe to use near genital area? Yes, Lanacane® Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream can be used near the genital area. However, keep in mind that Lanacane® Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream is topical and must not be used internally. Lanacane® First Aid Spray should never be used in the genital area.