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Don’t scratch that itch!

A new study suggests that scratching itches caused by eczema could exacerbate food allergies.

Eczema and food allergies have long been connected, but scientists have so far been unable to explain exactly how and why the two are linked.

This new study, conducted on mice, suggests that scratching an itch can start a chain reaction that leads to higher numbers of mast cells in the intestine, making the intestinal lining more permeable to allergens. The mouse study was bolstered by tests on children with a type of eczema known as atopic dermatitis, which found they had higher levels of mast cells in their intestines.

More research is needed to better understand the link, but scientists are hopeful the discovery could mean that reducing scratching in children with eczema could reduce the severity of food allergies in the future.

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