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Why Do We Sometimes Feel Itchy?

Why Do We Sometimes Feel Itchy?

Jan 20, 2023



Why do people feel itchy?


People feel itchy when the nerve endings in their skin are stimulated, which sends a signal to the brain that causes the sensation of itching. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Food intolerance

  • Dry skin (dehydration or overhydration)

  • Eczema

  • Hives

  • Insect bites

  • Certain medications. 


In some cases, itching may be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as liver disease or kidney failure.





What happens in the body physiologically to cause the itchy sensation?


The sensation of itching is caused by the activation of specific nerve fibers in the skin, called C-fibers and A-delta fibers. These fibers send a signal to the spinal cord and then to the brain, which is interpreted as an itch.

When the skin is irritated or inflamed, certain chemicals called histamine and other inflammatory mediators are released by cells in the skin. These chemicals bind to receptors on the nerve fibers, activating them and triggering the itch sensation.

Additionally, the itch sensation can also be caused by the release of other chemicals such as Serotonin and Prostaglandins.

The brain then sends signals back to the skin to scratch the itch, which can temporarily relieve the sensation. However, scratching can also further irritate the skin and cause more itching, creating a cycle of itching and scratching.



What is the purpose of feeling itchy?


The sensation of itching serves as a protective mechanism for the body, alerting us to potential danger and prompting us to take action to remove the irritant or allergen. Itching can be caused by a variety of factors, including dry skin, insect bites, and certain medical conditions, and it serves as a warning sign that something is not right. Scratching can remove the irritant and provide temporary relief.

Itching can also be caused by certain skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, which can be a sign that the skin is irritated or inflamed. In these cases, the itching serves as a warning that the skin needs care and attention.

Additionally, itching can also be caused by the internal medical conditions such as liver or kidney diseases, allergies, or even certain cancers. In these cases, the itchy sensation is a symptom of an underlying problem, and it serves as a warning that something is not right inside the body and should be addressed by a doctor.

In summary, itching serves as a protective mechanism that alerts us to the presence of potential irritants or allergens, and warns us of potential internal medical conditions that need attention.

How can carnivore help?

A low-carb diet in general can help some people reduce itching because it can help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection and it's also a key factor in many chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

A low-carb diet, which is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, can help to reduce inflammation in the body by decreasing blood sugar levels, promoting weight loss, and reducing insulin resistance.

The amino acid glycine has been studied for its efficacy in reducing itchiness.

Additionally, some studies have shown that a low-carb diet may be beneficial for people with eczema, which is a skin condition that can cause itching and redness.

However, it's important to note that the effects of a low-carb diet on itching may vary from person to person, and it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before making any major changes to your diet, especially if you have a specific medical condition.

But what about ‘Keto Rash?”

(Another name that is sometimes used for this condition is “Prurigo pigmentosa“.The name means that it itches (“prurigo”), and that long-term, after many weeks, it can result in increased pigmentation (“pigmentosa”) in the affected skin area, looking like darker patches. This increased pigmentation, should it occur, fades very slowly after the rash is cured.)


One generally accepted theory for the short-term ‘Keto Rash’ is that a minority of people adapting to lower carb intake produce more ketones. This means the body creates more of the waste product called acetone. To rid the body of the excess we can breathe it out (hence the fruity breath for some people) or sweat it out. This acetone in our sweat exposes the skin to excess acetone and causes an inflammatory response that leads to itchiness, and in some cases lesions on the skin. This is especially true when the sweat evaporates quickly or in hot temperatures.


Some common food culprits that can trigger itchiness


  • Dairy (e.g., cottage cheese, full-fat yogurt, and hard cheese). For more on dairy allergies and intolerance, check out our dairy-free keto guide.

  • Eggs

  • Fish (eg. tuna, salmon)

  • Shellfish (eg. oysters, clams, crab)

And for those that are not 100% Carnivore

  • Tree nuts (eg. macadamia, almonds)

  • Peanuts

Avoid other irritants

Environmental, chemical and stress are a few other potential reasons for feeling itchy. It is also wise to read the insert in many medications as this is a common side effect.

Antibiotics seem to work on a short-term basis and once stopped the rash returns

References

Glycine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12589194/

Antibiotics https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22901017/

The benefits of being in Ketosis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32640608/









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