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How do astronauts scratch an itch?


Astronauts are in space a long time. What do they do when they have an itch?

5245 day(s) ago

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JohnQ
For the most part, astronauts scratch an itch just like we do here on the surface of Earth. It is actually very rare that an astronaut has to wear a spacesuit. Most astronauts never have to wear a spacesuit for their entire careers. Spacesuits are only necessary if an astronaut leaves the ship for a spacewalk. Astronauts have not been to the moon since 1972 and they have never been to another planet, so modern astronauts only use them for spacewalks which usually last only a couple of hours. The longest spacewalk was in 2001 and lasted for 8 hours and 56 minutes. Inside the ship, astronauts wear regular clothing or simple jumpsuits and they are free to scratch like anyone else.

Astronauts wearing spacesuits do not scratch an itch. There is no way to do so except for in a few instances. Outside of the ship, the suit is pressurized. This means a pocket of air is always between the personís body and the suit. If the itch is on the torso, arm, or leg, it may be possible to slightly rub the itching location against the inside of the suit by bending the elbows or knees. It may also be possible to rub the itching spot by punching on the outside of the suit, but forceful movements are not recommended in space because there is no air or gravity to stop the momentum of the reaction. If the itch is on the face, neck, or shoulders, it is impossible to scratch through the helmet. Exaggerated flexing of the facial muscles, however, can provide some relief. By scrunching the nose and lips, opening the mouth, and moving the jaw muscles or brow, a massage action can be created that may take care of the itch. For the most part, astronauts on spacewalks are too busy and too focused to let a little itch bother them. It is easily ignored because there is so much more to think about.


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