There are few things in this world as satisfying as scratching itchy skin. You would think that something that feels so good wouldn’t be damaging to the body. Yet scratching has some potentially serious consequences.
Scratching feels good because scratching activates the reward centers of the brain, yet it only feels good for as long as you are doing it. Usually the itching only becomes more persistent or more irritating after a good scratch.
This is because scratching is actually very damaging to your skin. Each time you scratch, you are breaking the barrier of the skin. When you persistently scratch or rub the skin nonstop, it wears away the protective barrier of the skin and can cause infection.
Persistent scratching of itchy skin has other potential consequences. A skin condition called lichen simplex chronicus, or lichenification, is caused by frequent scratching or rubbing of the skin. This condition causes skin to become thicker, darker, and more prone to itch. This skin condition needs to be treated by a dermatologist.
If you have persistent itch that you can’t help but to scratch and it has lasted for longer than a few days, it is important to have it checked by a dermatologist. The best thing you can do to avoid scratching is to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the itchiness.