Why Does Grass Itch?

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Anyone who has ever sat, lain or played on a patch of grass knows how itchy it can get. In fact, there are several reasons why grass can cause people to itch, ranging from allergies to bugs and everything in between. Furthermore, just the structure of grass can cause people to itch.

Allergies

  • Grass allergy is one reason grass makes you itch. The allergy is caused by the release of certain particles that make their way onto or into your body. Your immune system recognizes them as foreign and activates autoimmune responses, which include itching. According to WebMD, Bermuda, blue grasses, orchard, red top, sweet vernal and timothy are some of the worst allergen-producing varieties of grass.

Structure

  • Grass can also cause people to itch solely because of the way it is structured. The term "blade of grass" gives an important clue into what grass actually looks like when examined closely. But it is not only the sharp points of the grass that may cause skin irritation. In fact, the undersides of some species of grass also have small hairs that are capable of causing the irritation that makes us itch.

Bugs

  • Sometimes, the reason grass makes us itch is the presence of bugs. Most commonly, small mites called chiggers are to blame. The chigger is an insect barely visible with the naked eye that bites people and causes persistent itch. The bite is actually not the real cause; it is the chigger's saliva that it injects into every bite that causes an itching reaction. Other bugs like ticks can also bite and cause an itching reaction, but the chigger is the most prevalent nuisance hiding in the lawn.

Diagnosis

  • If you have a persistent itch caused by grass that is long-lasting enough to become worrisome, call a doctor. Only a medical professional can give you a correct diagnosis. But if the itch is not persistent, you can try to diagnose the cause yourself. If a grass allergy is causing the itching, you'll most likely have other symptoms like sneezing and coughing. Chigger bites will commonly get worse before they get better, and the itching will peak after a day or so. Look for this pattern if you think chiggers are the culprit.

Cures

  • Most common allergies can be cured with an antihistamine, but some require attention and prescription-strength medication, so if you think allergies are the cause, talk to your doctor. Chiggers and other bug bites usually work their way out of the body naturally after time and only require a topical anesthetic like benzocaine, camphor-phenol or ammonium hydroxide to help with the discomfort. Like allergies, bug bites can be serious and should be treated by a medical professional if severe enough. If you think your skin is just irritated from the grass itself, some lotion, Vaseline or anti-itch cream will do the trick to stop or limit itching.

References

  • Photo Credit grass image by green308 from Fotolia.com
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