Washington: A new study has found that itching and burning pain are governed by similar nerve cells.
In the study, performed on mice, the research team led by Klas Kullander at the Department of Neuroscience examined the nerve cells that transfer heat pain.
When these nerve cells had lost its capacity to signal, the mice reacted less to heat, as expected, but surprisingly they also started to itch incessantly.
"These findings link together pain from a burn with regulating sensitivity to itching, which was highly surprising and interesting," said Klas Kullander.
Extreme itching is very unpleasant and difficult to treat. For example, it is a common complication following operations and burns. Eczema and other skin disorders can also lead to general itchiness.
Greater knowledge of the underlying factors paves the way for developing new forms of treatment for itching, for example, activating pain fibers to reduce itching, which is supported by these findings.
"In the long run, and with the help of more research, we will hopefully be able to fully elucidate what nerve fibers conduct the itching itself, and then we will be able to extinguish the itch at the source," said Kullander.