In a recent study published in the journal Cell, scientists have proposed a new theory about the cause of itching and potential treatments for conditions like eczema or dermatitis. The research indicates that exposing the skin to the common bacteria Staphylococcus aureus can trigger signals from the skin to the brain, causing itchiness.
While about 30% of people carry S. aureus harmlessly in their noses, those with skin conditions like eczema may be more susceptible. This challenges the previous belief that itchiness in such conditions was solely due to inflammation.
Senior author Isaac Chiu, PhD, from Harvard, stated, “We’ve identified an entirely novel mechanism behind itch — the bacterium Staph aureus, which is found on almost every patient with chronic atopic dermatitis. We show that the microbe itself can cause itch.”
Mice exposed to S. aureus developed intense itchiness and engaged in an itch-scratch cycle, causing skin damage. The researchers successfully blocked the itching sensation by using a medicine typically used for blood clot issues, suggesting a potential repurposing of the drug for anti-itch treatments.
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