Crazy Alert: Science Proves That Itchiness Is Contagious

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She probably just saw someone scratch.

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The good news: you’re not actually itchy. The bad news: your brain doesn’t know that. Research published in the British Journal of Dermatology shows that when it comes to being itchy, it might all be in your head.

Scientists have found out why you feel the urge to scratch after witnessing someone else go to town on their own skin. Itchiness is contagious.

(More on TIME.com: See the flip side of placebos)

In a study led by Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, researchers applied a solution of histamine meant to induce itching to the skin of half the 25 volunteers used in the study. The other half were given a nonirritating salt solution. All the volunteers were then asked to watch a series of videos that featured a person either scratching their arm or sitting idly.

The researchers found that the volunteers scratched twice as much while watching the itchy videos than they did while watching the non-itchy videos. Also, the volunteers who were given the histamine tended to scratch all over, rather than just the itchy patch created by the solution.

Delightfully known as “itch transmission”, according to Dr. Yosipovitch this phenomenon shows that “there is low threshold for ‘feeling an itch’ when this suggestion appears in a visual form, or even by simply thinking/reading about it.”

So when someone complains about their “bedbugs” and the next thing you know you’re consumed with the urge to scratch, relax! You’re imagining it. Unless you actually do have bedbugs and then, well, no one ever said life was fair.  (via Telegraph)

(More on TIME.com: See bed bug beauty shots)

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