Many people started itching for various reasons, like when they got in contact with environmental pollutants like pet dander, mold, dust, and pollen. Some of the symptoms include sneezing, headaches, watery eyes, fatigue, itchy noises, and congestion. Scientists and healthcare experts at Medriva are still trying to know why skin conditions such as eczema cause people to start itching.
Staphylococcus aureus activates itching
When people start itching, their skin gets damaged, which makes the inflammation even worse. According to the latest study revealed on Wednesday, Staphylococcus aureus is another trigger for itching. The scientists at Harvard Medical School observed that this bacterium can activate nerve cells directly in mice.
An associate professor (immunology) at Harvard Medical School, Isaac Chiu, said mice started scratching their skin even with little inflammation. It shows that the bacterium acts directly on the nerve cells and causes itching.
Before conducting this study, the researchers were aware that Staphylococcus aureus was related to eczema. According to the new study, Staphylococcus aureus invades the skin of mice and releases V8, an enzyme, which in turn activates PARI, a protein. This protein is in the cells of your skin. The brain receives the signal from this activated protein, making mice start itching.
A recent lab experiment shows that the same mechanism applies to human nerve cells. However, the researchers are still in a dilemma about whether it could be applied to humans.
Research offers ways to develop treatments for itching
The new findings help scientists develop new treatments for eczema. According to the latest available information at Medriva, around 10% of the population in the US suffers from this skin condition. Many people suffer from dry, itchy, and cracked skin because of atopic dermatitis. It is also associated with allergies like hay fever or asthma. Liwen Deng, who is a co-author of the study, said patients suffering from atopic dermatitis harbor Staphylococcus aureus in all of their lesions.
The researchers have subjected the mice to S. aureus bacteria on their skin for many days. They observed irritation on the skin of the mice on the third day. It gradually led to enhanced scratching by the end of the day. The same is not found in mice, which were not exposed to S. aureus bacteria.
In the study, the scientists also noticed that mice could develop alloknesis. It is a skin condition where people may start itching just with a touch. The researchers also experimented with lowering the immune cells in mice related to skin allergies to rule out the possibility that inflammation is still driving the itchiness. The outcome is that Staphylococcus aureus is causing the itching.
An associate professor (dermatology) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Nathan Archer, said the study helped the team break apart the itch response and inflammatory response. The founding director of the CIEC (Chicago Integrative Eczema Center), Dr. Peter Lio, said the study conducted at Harvard University strengthened their understanding. Lio further stated that the new study helped learn about Staphylococcus aureus, which could release toxins causing damage to the skin barrier, inflammation, and itching.