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Scratching the itch: It’s all in the brain

Researchers have discovered how your brain senses an itch.

Their findings — that neurons in the spinal cord help transmit itch signals to the brain — shine new light on the understanding of itch and could lead to effective new drugs to treat chronic itch, which can occur in such conditions as eczema, psoriasis and diabetes, according to The Peninsula Qatar.

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Psoriasis is more than just a dry, itchy and scaly skin condition — it’s a devastating chronic and autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects up to 7.5 million Americans. It causes low self-confidence, thereby affecting quality of life.

A thick, red or silvery scaly patch on your skin that is very itchy and sometimes painful could be a major sign of psoriasis. These patches can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly seen on the legs, scalp, lower back, palms, soles of the feet, elbows, face and knees. If the rashes cover less than 10% of your body, however, you may only have mild psoriasis.

UVB or light therapy and sunlight have been effective in treating psoriasis. Vitamin D in the form of sensible sun exposure is actually one of your best choices when choosing natural therapies for psoriasis.

Eczema is another disorder that causes very itchy skin. The symptoms of eczema are different for everyone. Eczema may develop in any part of your body, but it is typically found on the flexors (bends of your arms and back of your knees). Although no conclusive cause has been found, it is believed that genetics play a part, so you may have simply inherited it from one of your parents.

Environmental factors, such as allergens, irritants, chemicals, microbes, hot or cold temperatures, food and stress, are also known to trigger symptoms of eczema. By identifying and avoiding your triggers, you may be able to prevent flare-ups and manage your condition, as well as prevent any serious complications.

There are a number of other disorders and conditions that may cause itching, but itchy skin can also be caused by something as simple as the weather. For instance, dry and itchy skin is more prevalent in the winter when the humidity plummets and the weather turns cold.

Here are five simple and inexpensive remedies for itchy, dry or flaky skin, and most are probably already in your kitchen:

  1. Animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil, is one of the best ways to hydrate your skin from the inside out.
  2. Drink plenty of clean, pure water.
  3. Coconut oil, applied topically, helps reduce itching and dryness and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also aids in smoother skin by exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, and Its antibacterial and antifungal properties help protect against possible infections.
  4. Include fermented vegetables in your diet. Fermented foods promote the growth of the “good” intestinal bacteria and the health and quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. Normalizing your gut microflora has been shown to help against skin irritations and chronic skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
  5. Eat or drink lots of fresh vegetables — ideally organic and locally grown. Fresh vegetables or fresh vegetable juice are wonderful for hydrating and nourishing your skin.
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