07 June 2006

Did you know that "itch" is a transitive verb in some parts of the Northeast?

Those weirdo Yankees.

Anyway, I defy you to read this article and not itch:
Genes and gender help determine an individual’s urge to scratch, suggests a new study on pruritus, otherwise known as itch.

The study is the first to demonstrate sex differences in itch-induced scratching behavior in animals. The researchers studied mice, but the findings could apply to humans and other mammals.

The conclusion? Females scratched themselves 23 percent more often than males did.
I wouldn't have guessed that.
Mogil told Discovery News itch is the second most common reason people seek medical care.

He explained that pruritus is an important symptom of many skin, systemic and autoimmune diseases. Numerous medications, such as the malaria drug administered to the mice, cause itching as a troubling side effect. Itching can also be a chronic condition in its own right.

The most common reason people seek medical attention, of course, is pain. Interestingly enough, Mogil and his team found that individuals sensitive to pain were more resistant to itch, while those with less pain sensitivity had a greater tendency to scratch.
You know what makes a great backscratcher? An engineering scale. mmm, Staedtler.
"I think pain and itch are wired up in the brain as opposites, in a sense, such that inheriting particular forms of pain/itch-relevant genes would simultaneously make you more sensitive to pain and less sensitive to itch, or vice versa," he speculated.

The pain/itch correlation, however, is complicated by findings from another study last year in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. That study found that women feel pain more intensely than men do.


It could be that women are more sensitive than men to both pain and itch, or that women have evolved some level of pain tolerance, perhaps due to giving birth.
Or your results in mice don't extend to humans.

Has anyone in science today even heard of Occam's Razor?


Anonymous Matt30 said...

Speaking of military commanders (your previous post), I read somewhere that General MacArthur, in his later years suffered from terrible itching due to some medical condition. The writer of the piece noted that the great man refused to scratch. This was supposed to be an indication of his boundless self-discipline.

Me? I think it sounds rather stupidly stubborn. Or stubbornly stupid, as the case may be.

12:05 AM  

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