May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Itching can be so irritating. You know?

Especially since most of it takes place on parts of our body that we can’t actually reach, such as our backs. (Note that we’re talking about itching here, not scratching. A lot of people confuse the two, but the two are actually very different things. For example, you can’t get an itch on your car. There’s no such thing as itch-’n’-sniff, or itch-off lottery tickets. And likewise, there is no such thing as scratching powder. If there were, it would be a great thing to pour down your back in camp after someone dumps itching powder in there. Like an antidote.)

When I was a kid, my back rarely itched. I have no strong memories of an itchy back. But I could reach my back with both hands. I could also touch my toes back then. Granted, I was closer to the floor and had fewer stomachs. But the back thing makes no sense.

In fact, I would say that adults’ itchy backs are one of the main reasons we can’t just go off, leave society and live on our own. Whenever I hear a story of a guy who was marooned on a desert island, I wonder, “What did he do when his back itched?”

Actually, I don’t. If there’s one thing desert islands have, it’s sticks.

As an adult, it’s really hard to scratch your back, unless you’re really good at yoga. There are other ways to take care of it, though. For example, you can buy a back scratcher. A back scratcher is a tiny hand—on a stick—that you put down the back of your shirt and attempt to scratch hard enough for it to be effective but not so hard that it snaps in half and you lose the entire lower half down your back and you aren’t able to get it out, because you obviously can’t reach back there.

You could also take the approach that some people do, and do a little dance against the side of a doorway.

But this only recommended if you have an itch in a place that you can’t otherwise reach. It looks pretty bad if you do that with parts that you can reach, such as your chest.

Of course, you’re really not supposed to scratch itches at all. That’s what they say. But why?

Well, because if you scratch it, you can get a scratch. And scratches become bruises, which lead to scabs, which itch. But then you can scratch those. So I don’t see the problem.

So doctors recommend a whole bunch of alternatives. For example, they say that you can scratch the corresponding part on the other side of your body. Does this work? If your back itches, can you just scratch your stomach? And why aren’t we worried about you getting carried away and bruising your stomach? And once you’re scratching anyway, why not just scratch the part that itches? And how come this is supposed to work, but if someone else is scratching your back and misses the spot by a millimeter, you will feel like he did absolutely nothing?

So that might not work. But the doctors do all suggest kitchen remedies, and if you want to play it safe, I say you should go with all of their suggestions at once: Basically get into a bathtub filled with oatmeal, baking soda, lemon, cloves, juniper berries, basil, cold water, warm water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, milk and honey, mint and thyme. Bake at 350 degrees until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Serves six.

Some of us also come up with our own home remedies. For example, if the inside of our ear itches, we will go, “Cccchhh! I have an inner-ear itch! Cccchhh!” so people don’t think we’re choking or something. Heaven help you if you need to do this and the doorway dance at the same time. They’ll put you in a straightjacket, and good luck scratching yourself then.

Of course, what most people do is find a loophole in the doctors’ orders:

“Well, they said ‘Don’t scratch yourself.’ But it’s okay to ask someone else to scratch me.”

And maybe it is. Because that person won’t get carried away, and will probably miss the spot anyway. And then if you point this out, he’ll get angry at you, like this is your fault. So there’s really no good way.

Luckily, according to a recent article, the people over at the National Institute of Health have recently discovered the cause of itching.

Of course you’re thinking that we already know the causes of itching. The causes of itching are:

  • • carrying something heavy with both hands
  • • wearing a cast and trying not to think about it
  • • getting a haircut with a very loose cloth draped around your neck
  • • the presence of a bug in the room in your peripheral vision
  • • reading an article about itching.

The real question is why scratching it feels good. And scientists haven’t figured that out yet.

Though there are theories. One theory is that maybe scratching replaces the itch with a feeling that we caused. We don’t like the itchy feeling because we didn’t cause it. It’s like having someone tickle you versus tickling yourself. Have someone tickle you, and you want to punch them in the nose. Whereas if you tickle yourself, you have way too much time on your hands.

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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