Itch, Tickle, and Tingle

Itch, tickle, and tingle are commonplace sensory experiences that form part of the larger constellation of skin senses that also includes touch, temperature, and pain. Itch and tickle are sometimes linked perceptually, but under most circumstances these two distinct sensations are evoked by markedly different stimuli: chemicals for itch, and touch stimulation for tickle. This entry describes these sensations.


Itch is defined as an unpleasant sensation associated with the desire to scratch. Itch is commonly evoked by insect bites, allergic reactions, or contact with certain plants such as poison ivy or cowhage, a bean plant with seedpods that are covered with spicules that cause itch when they contact skin. Allergic reactions such as hives are caused by the release of histamine in the skin, which elicits ...

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