Mild Skin Heating Evokes Warmth Hyperknesis Selectively for Histaminergic and Serotoninergic Itch in Humans
Keywords:Itch, Warmth, Hyperknesis, Histamine, Serotonin, Cowhage
Chronic itch can severely affect quality of life. Patients report that their chronic itch can be exacerbated by exposure to warm conditions (“warmth hyperknesis”). The aim of this mechanistic study was to investigate the effect of mild heating of the skin in humans on various experimental models of itch. A total of 18 healthy subjects were recruited to the study. Itch was provoked by histamine, serotonin, or cowhage in 3 different sessions. The provoked area was heated with an infrared lamp, and the skin temperature was either not altered, or was increased by 4°C or 7°C. Subsequent to induction of itch, the itch intensity was recorded for 10 min while the skin was heated continuously throughout the entire period of itch induction. Heating the skin resulted in a significant increase in itch intensity when provoked by histamine or serotonin. It is possible that thermoception and pruriception interact and selectively produce a higher itch intensity in histaminergic and serotoninergic itch.
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