Itching soon could be easier for millions of people to shine the light on the skin, researchers claim.
Mice tests showed that they no longer felt an annoying feeling after treatment – and they scratched less.
Results labeled "exciting" give new hope to those who suffer from chronic skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.
Itching skin is a major symptom that many patients struggling with conditions would describe annoying or even life-impairing.
Itching to scratch relief, however, is only temporary as it may cause further damage to the skin, which creates a vicious circle.
Current treatment options to relieve itching skin are most often dependent on skin blockage and inflammation with ointments and moisture.
This is not about to shrink, and what drives chronic itching at the cellular level is not fully understood – despite years of research.
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Rome are seeking to address the underlying causes of weed, hoping for new care.
They developed a chemical called IL31-IR700, which is sensitive to light and binds the skin surface to itchy cells.
The team stuck this chemical onto the skin of the mouse. When the chemical-treated skin was illuminated near the infrared light, cells that felt itching inward from the surface of the skin showed tests.
This made the feeling of shrinkage of the pruritus, the researchers wrote in a report published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Partner Paul Heppenstall told MailOnline: "The infrared light activates the molecule, called a photoreceptor, which grabs everything in a very close place.
"As a result of photosensitis on the surface of itching neurons, it cuts its heads so that they can no longer detect itching.
"The process is called photodynamic therapy and was originally developed to kill cancer cells.
"By applying it to the skin in a well-directed direction, we can selectively eliminate neurons that cause itching, just like performing microsurgery with light."
Dr Linda Nocch led the researchers to the delights of the method worked well in mice with eczema.
They also found that rodents benefited from rare genetic skin disease for which there is currently no cure – amyloidosis.
Amyloidosis describes a group of rare diseases that occurs when an amyloid-containing substance is accumulated in the body.
It may affect the list of organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver. However, skin amyloidosis affects the skin in the same way as eczema.
Other skin neurons that allow you to feel sensations such as pain, vibration, cold or heat did not affect phototherapy.
The effect of treatment lasted several months, suggesting that this may be a long-lasting correction for people who have difficulty finding treatments.
"I think the most exciting part of this project saw improvements in animal health," said Dr. Nocchi.
"Their skin looked much better after treatment and they scratched less." Scientists are now planning to test the method in humans.
Dr Heppenstall said, "One day we hope that this method will help people who suffer from a disease such as eczema, which causes chronic itching."
As the team should test the efficacy and safety of long-term effects, treatment for humans would not be available for at least ten years, Dr. Heppenstall noted.
In April, the same research team published a way to treat chronic pain with light in the same way.
The team injected the skin area with a chemical and illuminated it near the infrared light. Targeted nerve cells were removed from the skin surface, which resulted in Pain Relief.
"We think that the mechanism we have found can be a common way of feeling through the skin feeling," he said.
Worldwide, about 20 percent of children and up to 3 percent of the adult population have some form of eczema.
"Our goal is now to take these therapies further. We want to work with partners in the field to develop human therapies, including veterinary care, as itching is a big problem for dogs, too."
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