January 23, 2012
Ankle Best Place To Scratch, Study Claims
If you're feeling the need to scratch an itch, the ankle is the best place to do so, claims a new study published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Dermatology (BJD).
According to a Sunday report by IndianExpress.com, the study, which was the work of researchers from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), states that the sensation of itchiness is felt most intensely at the ankle.That area of the body is also the most satisfying place to scratch -- edging out those tough-to-reach places on the back, the researchers report, based on an analysis of both male and female volunteers between the ages of 22 and 59.
"The itches were induced on three parts of the body — forearm, ankle and back" by using cowhage, a plant which is known to cause skin irritation, Roger Dobson of the Telegraph wrote in a January 22 article. "For five minutes participants were banned from scratching, while being asked to record how itchy they felt at each spot."
Afterwards, the researchers scratched each location using a laboratory brush, making sure to use a consistent technique, Dobson added. The scientists then asked the subject how pleasurable the sensation was at each region of the body.
The results, the Telegraph said, revealed that the ankle was both the itchiest spot and the area which produced the most pleasure when scratched. Conversely, " the forearm was the least itchy spot, and scratching there produced pleasure that was briefer and lower in intensity," Dobson added.
Francis McGlone, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at LJMU, a member of the International Forum for the Study of Itch (IFSI), and one of the researchers on the study, called the findings "interesting“¦ because the back has been well-known as a preferred site for scratching."
"Generally, if something is nice to do, like scratching an itch, there is a reason for it other than pleasure," McGlone added, according to the Telegraph. "It may, for example, that we evolved to feel itch on the ankle and get the most pleasure from scratching it, because our feet were exposed to microbes, fleas and so on."
While IndianExpress.com reports that there was "no clear explanation" for the results of the study, Dobson says that the professor believes that the ankle region may have become more sensitive through evolution because they are more likely to come into contact with bugs, germs, and other foreign bodies that could be removed by scratching.
On the Net:
- British Journal of Dermatology (BJD)
- Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)
- International Forum for the Study of Itch (IFSI)