Itch-Scratch Cycle (IMAGE) Washington University School of Medicine Caption In the vicious cycle of itching and scratching, we scratch an itch to cause minor pain in the skin, and then the brain releases serotonin in response to that pain. However, in addition to tamping down pain, serotonin also reacts with receptors on neurons that carry itch signals to the brain, making itching worse. Credit Washington University Center for the Study of Itch Usage Restrictions None License Licensed content Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.