How I Scratch an Itch

February 4th, 2013

Your mother always told you not to scratch an itch. She’s right: scratching only inflames the already-inflamed tissue and makes matters worse. But I discovered something that works for me. I heat the itchy spot with hot tap water. I typically put the itchy spot under the stream of hot water as it heats up. At first, the cool water does nothing for the itch. Then, as the temperature rises above 100ºF, the itchy spot starts to feel good. As the temperature rises, the itchy spot feels nicer and nicer until there’s suddenly a big jump in how good it feels. The only way to describe it is as a “skin orgasm”. It really feels good! But a second after that, it’s too hot to withstand and I must yank away from the hot water.

This happens with poison oak, mosquito bites, and flea bites. It did not work with a fungal infection. It does nothing to help the itchiness arising from a healing skin lesion. The process not only satisfies the itching, it eliminates it. After this treatment, the itchy spot is not itchy any more. I do not know how long the suppression of itchiness lasts, but I know that it’s on the order of hours. Once, when I had a severe case of poison oak, one treatment would provide several hours of blissful sleep.

This treatment does nothing for bare skin; the skin simply feels too hot. It works only with certain kinds of itches. My guess is that there’s some sort of reaction involving the proteins associated with skin inflammation.

I have no idea if this treatment will have any value for anybody else. If you do try it, I would appreciate learning what works and does not work for you. You can contact me here.

Postscript: Somebody emailed me and it turns out that this treatment has already been discovered. I did some searching and here are some places that talk about it:

There’s even an academic paper discussing the concept:
which refers to many other papers on the subject. So it looks like another wheel that I have re-invented. Once of these days maybe I’ll invent a genuinely new wheel!