Why do I scratch?

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Offline SquarishTriangle

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Why do I scratch?
« on: 03/12/2007 09:42:34 »
Itchiness, whether caused by mosquito bites, scabs, dry skin, fungal infections etc., makes us want to scratch. It feels very rewarding, but is scratching really that beneficial to us?

A little too much scratching can result in injury to the skin, which isn't a particularly good thing. Neither is accidentally dislodging a scab that isn't quite ready to go. Even if it were a behaviour left over (from our hairy ancestors) for say dislodging fleas, the damage that can be caused by excessive scratching (particularly with nail/claws) seems to, at least in dogs, outweigh the benefit of shedding a few fleas. For us, scratching a mozzie bite surely has no useful purpose, yet there is a persistent need to do so.

I was thinking itchiness maybe has some role in the development of social interactions between individuals, and the formation of (harmonious) social groups through cooperative grooming behaviour, for example in birds, monkeys, apes, meerkats etc. ...Maybe. How significant that role might be I'm not sure.

What do you think?

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Offline JimBob

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Why do I scratch?
« Reply #1 on: 04/12/2007 04:18:07 »
It is because you Aussies don't bathe!
 [;D]

Actually, it is a leftover from our primate (and before that) heritage. Is is a reaction to insects and other parasites.

The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein

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Offline Karen W.

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Why do I scratch?
« Reply #2 on: 04/12/2007 04:51:38 »
Yeah I hate it... It makes me crazy!

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline SquarishTriangle

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Why do I scratch?
« Reply #3 on: 15/12/2007 07:57:19 »
It is because you Aussies don't bathe!
 [;D]

But I just had a shower the other week!! :P