Narrator: This is Science Today. It's thought that about 10 percent of the population, at some point in their lives, have eczema, a chronic skin condition that in severe cases can develop into asthma or allergic rhinitis. To head off some of the worst consequences of eczema, neuroscientist Diana Bautista of the University of California, Berkeley, has been looking into the role of the sensory nerves in the skin.
Bautista: We became very interested in this from a neuroscience perspective because we know that irritating itchy sensation that makes you want to scratch, we know that for you to experience that sensation, neurons that innervate your skin have to be activated. And so we started with a really simple question under acute conditions of itch, what activates the neurons that causes that electrical signal to go to your brain and trigger that irritating sensation?
Narrator: Bautista found that sensory nerves in the skin are the first to react, so they hope that blocking these nerve cells could halt the symptoms of eczema. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.