The skin microbiota and itch: Is there a link?

Hei Sung Kim, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Itch is an unpleasant sensation that emanates primarily from the skin. The chemical mediators that drive neuronal activity originate from a complex interaction between keratinocytes, inflammatory cells, nerve endings and the skin microbiota, relaying itch signals to the brain. Stress also exacerbates itch via the skin–brain axis. Recently, the microbiota has surfaced as a major player to regulate this axis, notably during stress settings aroused by actual or perceived homeostatic challenge. The routes of communication between the microbiota and brain are slowly being unraveled and involve neurochemicals (i.e., acetylcholine, histamine, catecholamines, corticotropin) that originate from the microbiota itself. By focusing on itch biology and by referring to the more established field of pain research, this review examines the possible means by which the skin microbiota contributes to itch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1190
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Itch
  • Microbiota-skin-brain axis
  • Skin microbiota
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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