Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Nicotine Patch 'Turns On' Itchy Feeling

New Clues on Itchiness of Nicotine Patch Could Lead to Better Smoking-Cessation Therapies
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 16, 2009 -- If you've tried to quit smoking using nicotine patches or similar therapies, you might have been left with an itchy feeling.

Such smoking cessation aids commonly cause skin, mouth, and nose irritation. The side effects often prompt patients to stop using the products.

Now researchers have discovered why nicotine, applied to the skin, leaves you with the urge to scratch. Their finding could lead to better therapies to help people stop smoking.

Karel Talavera and colleagues say nicotine turns on a channel in the nervous system that's involved in the sensation of pain and irritation. This channel, called TRPA1, is found in the skin and the lining of the nose and mouth. TRPA1 is considered a "chemosensor" because it senses, or detects, certain chemicals, like nicotine. Their experiments were performed using mice.

Talavera's results challenge the theory that the irritation related to nicotine patches occurs when the chemical stimulates nerve receptors that send pain signals from the skin and lining of the nose and mouth.

Their study also revealed that mice lacking TRPA1 had no irritation when given a nasal version of nicotine.

The study appears in this week's online version of Nature Neuroscience.

Today on WebMD

Smoking and Heart Disease
ARTICLE
Ways Smoking Affects Looks
Slideshow
 
no smoking sign
VIDEO
Woman smoking, close-up
Quiz
 

Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
Quit Smoking Aids
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
man with inhaler
Quiz
 

Erectile Dysfunction
SLIDESHOW
How To Quit Smoking
VIDEO
 
person pouring water into mouth
SLIDESHOW
How You Can Control Blood Sugar and Manage Insulin
SLIDESHOW