Scientists have finally found the reason why we get random itches

Woman with random itches
A study has revealed why we get random itches. (Getty Images)

You know when you get an itch that just appears out of nowhere and you can’t think of a reason for it? A team of scientists have finally discovered exactly why this happens.

According to one study, around one in 10 people suffer from chronic itching, while a further one in 10 have acute periods of itching, which means they only itch for short bursts of time.

While some itching is caused by skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, or external factors such as insect bites, we often get other itching which went unexplained - until now.

Researchers have found that the reason why we itch is due to the presence of a common skin bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus that acts directly on our nerve cells.

In the study, which included experiments on mice, scientists found that the bacteria made them develop an intensifying itch and they discovered this bacteria by activating a protein involved in blood clotting.

Anxiety and itching. Cropped image of nervous anxious woman sitting on sofa intching skin, bodys stress response, psychogenic itching
Most itching is caused by a certain bacteria found on the skin. (Getty Images)

However, when they gave the mice anti-clotting medicine, they found that the itching stopped.

The researchers from the Harvard Medical School in the US, proceeded to do additional tests on human cells and found that the anti-clotting medicine could become a basis for anti-itch creams.

"We’ve identified an entirely novel mechanism behind itch - the bacterium Staph aureus, which is found on almost every patient with the chronic condition atopic dermatitis," senior author Dr Isaac Chiu said.

Study first author Dr Liwen Deng added: "Itching can be quite debilitating in patients who suffer from chronic skin conditions."

Before the study, which was published in the journal Cell, it was thought that itching in skin conditions such as eczema was caused by inflammation of the skin, but the researchers now believe that Staphylococcus aureus single-handedly causes most itching.

"When we started the study, it was unclear whether the itch was a result of inflammation or not," Dr Deng said.

"We show that these things can be decoupled, that you don’t necessarily have to have inflammation for the microbe to cause itch, but that the itch exacerbates inflammation on the skin."

The researchers said that further studies are required to understand whether other microbes can trigger an itch.

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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