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noun, plural: itches

(1) An irritation or tickling sensation in the skin that inclines to scratch the affected skin


(1) To have an uneasy sensation in the skin often resulting in the scratching of the part affected

itchy, adjective

(1) Of, pertaining to, or associated with itch

(2) Causing the desire to scratch or rub due to itch


An itch is a sensation in the skin that causes a person or an animal to want to scratch or rub. The desire to want to rub or scratch is associated with a scratch reflex.1 A scratch reflex is a response when the sensory neurons are activated. The sensory neurons are located on the surface of the body.2 Itch is sensed in various conditions such as in the presence of infections and infestations affecting the skin. It can also be caused by environmental and allergic factors (such as in hives or urticaria). Dermatologic disorders also lead to itch, such as in eczema (e.g. Washerwoman's itch, Grocer's itch, Bricklayer's itch, etc.), dandruff, xerosis, etc. Certain medical disorders such as diabetes mellitus, uraemia, psychogenic itch, hyperparathyroidism, etc. may also cause an itchy sensation.

Word origin: Middle English icche, Old English ġiċċe, ġyċċe, Proto-Germanic *jukjǭ ‎(“an itch”)


  • pruritus

See also:

Related term(s):

1 Ikoma, A., Steinhoff, M., Ständer, S., Yosipovitch, G., and Schmelz, M. (2006). "The neurobiology of itch". Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 7 (7): 535–47.
2 Stein, P. S. G. (1983). The Vertebrate Scratch Reflex. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology(37), 383-403.