Noxious heat and scratching decrease histamine-induced itch and skin blood flow

Gil Yosipovitch, Katharine Fast, Jeffrey D. Bernhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to assess the effect of thermal stimuli or distal scratching on skin blood flow and histamine-induced itch in healthy volunteers. Twenty-one healthy volunteers participated in the study. Baseline measurements of skin blood flow were obtained on the flexor aspect of the forearm. These measurements were compared with skin blood flow after various stimuli: heating the skin, cooling the skin, noxious cold 2°C, noxious heat 49°C, and scratching via a brush with controlled pressure. Afterwards histamine iontophoresis was performed and skin blood flow and itch intensity were measured immediately after the above-mentioned stimuli. Scratching reduced mean histamine-induced skin blood flow and itch intensity. Noxious heat pain increased basal skin blood flow but reduced histamine-induced maximal skin blood flow and itch intensity. Cold pain and cooling reduced itch intensity, but neither affected histamine-induced skin blood flow. Sub-noxious warming the skin did not affect the skin blood flow or itch intensity. These findings suggest that heat pain and scratching may inhibit itch through a neurogenic mechanism that also affects skin blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1268-1272
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Itch
  • Pain
  • Scratching
  • Skin blood flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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