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What Is Itching Powder?

Itching powder.
Itching powder causes inflammation on the affected area.
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  • Written By: A. Gamm
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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Itching powder is a skin irritant that usually causes inflammation and itching on the affected area. Almost all itching powders are made from natural ingredients that many may find outside their home. The most common ingredients are maple tree seed pods, rosehip, and mucuna pruriens, among other plants. Itching powder also goes by the names "tickling powder" and "pranking powder." It is normally used by children for pranks and practical jokes.

The mildest itching powders are usually homemade and contain irritants that are generally readily accessible. The hairs from the seed pods of maple trees are one such ingredient. Children usually rub the pods together and gather the hairs that fall. They can be used as they are, or crushed to make a fine powder.

Rosehip or dog rose is another common ingredient in homemade and store-bought itching powder. It is stronger than maple seed pods, but is still not the most severe. Like the maple tree seeds and other natural itching powders, it is the seed of the rosehip that carries the fibers causing a person to itch.

Perhaps the strongest of the ingredients used in itching powder are mucuna pruriens, which are tropical seeds with orange hairs. Like the others, the hairs are dried and crushed into a powder form. The itching is so severe that it may have long-term effects, mostly due to the excessive scratching that most people have.

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Other things used in itching powder include enzymes found in okra pods, which cause severe irritation, and the hairs on the London plane leaf. The hairs on prickly pears are also occasionally crushed to make the powder. Usually, no other ingredients are used in the powder beyond the natural ingredients.

Itching powders react differently on the skin. One way it works is by inducing an itching sensation once it is rubbed against the skin. This means scratching usually worsens symptoms as it only rubs the powder on the skin more, and the only way to relief the itching is by washing. This is called mechanical irritation. Maple seed pods are one such irritant.

The ingredients in other itching powder cause contact dermatitis. This is the standard name for a skin rash with itching and inflammation caused by an irritant. In most cases, the itching caused by the ingredients is mild and will disappear after the area is washed. Some irritants, however, such as the mucuna pruriens cause severe itching, which may also require the use of an anti-itch cream.

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Discuss this Article

Tomislav
Post 3

Wow! This sounds horrible! I have a permanent skin condition that itches most of the time, so I know how pesky and painful this can be!

I would not want anyone to have to feel like they had to scratch most of the time! I feel like I have to have my back scratched almost everywhere I go, and it is no fun!

Itching powder should not be sold anywhere, unless there is some benefits to it that I don't know about?

There are so many things that should be on people's mind instead of how to hurt someone or get a laugh at someone else's expense.

I know plenty of fun and funny things to do that do not require hurting others. Like playing sports, board games, telling non-offensive jokes, etc.

Please people find something better to do than bother and hurt other people and/or yourself!

starrynight
Post 2

@indemnifyme - While I agree that kids shouldn't be using this stuff, I hardly think we need to make it illegal. As if we don't already regulate enough stuff in this country as it is!

What are police going to do? Arrest kids who use it? I can think of far better uses for their time and resources.

indemnifyme
Post 1

I think it should be illegal to sell this stuff. There is a difference between a silly prank and causing someone lasting harm. As the article mentioned, mucuna pruriens can have long term side effects. I bet you might even need to visit a doctor to get a cream if you end up with contact dermatitis!

Using this stuff is just cruel, and I don't think this type of behavior should be encouraged in children. Bullying in school can be bad enough without adding itching powder into the mix.

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