The Scientific Reason You Get Itchy When Someone Else Scratches


Whether it's the result of a mosquito bite, dry skin, or an allergic reaction, nobody likes feeling itchy. While it's a common feeling that everyone is quite familiar with, scientists didn't really understand much about why we itch — or even how our brains perceived it — until fairly recently. 

SciShow recently dove into the topic, explaining why our bodies are so sensitive to this maddening sensation. As expected, the primary reason for itching is to alert us of potentially hazardous things on our skin, like disease-carrying parasites.


While having something physically on our skin makes sense to trigger the itch response, it seems odd that we can't help but scratch ourselves when someone so much as talks about an itchy condition, like head lice or poison ivy. Believe it or not, there could be a huge evolutionary advantage for this psychosomatic response.

For some, itching goes far beyond being a temporary annoyance; it's a chronic condition brought about by various skin conditions, diabetes, and even cancer. By understanding how itching occurs in the body, researchers can find new targets for treatment. 

Try not to scratch while learning why itching is so common in our lives:

That might explain why we feel itchy, but why does scratching it help? Scientists think that the pressure from scratching disrupts the signal of the receptors that are making you feel the itch. Having a break from that irritating sensation activates the reward center of the brain, making it feel so, so good.

Of course, depending on the cause of the itch, scratching might just irritate the skin and worsen the condition, so remember to scratch with caution.