When your skin is sensitive to the touch, it can be uncomfortable, annoying and many times unbearable. Tenderness or skin pain is known medically as allodynia, a condition where one feels a high degree of sensitivity or pain, even to stimuli that are non-painful, such as the wind.
There are different types of skin sensitive to touch. Pain triggered by touch is called tactile allodynia or mechanical allodynia, while pain caused by exposure to cold or warmth is called thermal allodynia. And there are two types of mechanical allodynia: dynamic mechanical allodynia which refers to pain due to brushing the skin, and static mechanical allodynia which refers to pain caused by light pressure or touch.
Sensitivity of the skin that is abnormally increased to various kinds of stimuli may also be an indication of other health problems, like nerve problems, nutritional deficiencies or a viral infection.
Symptoms of Skin Sensitive to Touch
It is not difficult to recognize symptoms of sore skin or skin which is sensitive to the touch. The pain can be widespread or localized. The intense pain is often triggered by stimuli which should not normally cause any pain. You can use a cotton pad or gauze to test this. Lightly brush it over your skin. You can also use a warm or cold compress, or even the tip of your finger to put it on the skin. If you notice any tenderness or feel pain from doing any of these, or even a tingling sensation, you may be experiencing allodynia.
Additional symptoms of allodynia include itchiness, feeling that something is crawling on your skin, a burning or pins and needles sensation.
Causes of Skin Sensitive to Touch
Overexposure to the Sun
Overexposure to the sun will give you a first-degree or second-degree burn which makes your skin sensitive to touch, even a gentle touch. The first-degree burns usually are the least serious burns in which the outer layer of skin is partially burned. The skin will gets red and sometimes swelling and painful. While the second-degree burns refer to the burns of both outer layer and second layer of skin. The skin will get intensely red. Blisters often develop and you will feel severe pain and swelling on skin.
Once you had the chickenpox, the virus which caused it will remain in your body for your entire life. The virus can reactivate as you grow older, sometimes occur when your body becomes stressed, resulting in shingles. Postherpetic neuralgia happens if your nerve fibers are damaged during the outbreak of shingles. The damaged fibers can’t send messages from the skin to the brain, creating chronic and excruciating pain, like allodynia. Other symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia include muscle weakness, numbness, an itchy feeling or paralysis.
Demyelinating diseases can affect the nervous system. These medical conditions occur when the myelin sheath that covers the nerve cell is damaged, causing a number of different symptoms, which include skin sensitivity and pain.
The part of the brain which involves sorting and evaluating various stimuli is the midbrain. Tactile defensiveness can be a result of a neurological defect in the midbrain, causing a painful reaction to normal stimuli such as a light touch or pressure.
Migraines can cause throbbing sensation or a pulsing sensation in one part of the head for hours to days. Migraines can also cause nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to heat, light and pressure. Sometimes even a gentle touch to the skin on face or combing hair can cause pain if you have a severe migraine headache.
Fibromyalgia causes many symptoms including headaches, muscle weakness and widespread pain. Allodynia happens many times with fibromyalgia and causes pain from clothing touching your skin or from your fingers gently rubbing over your arm.
This is a disorder of the peripheral nervous system. The affected nerves or nerve can cause numbness and weakness of the muscles, loss of sensation, muscle atrophy, chronic body pains and allodynia, etc.
Treatment of Skin Sensitive to Touch
The specific cause of the skin sensitive to touch will determine the type of treatment. Your symptoms could improve by having the underlying cause treated, however some of these conditions like demyelinating disease and fibromyalgia aren’t easily treated. For vitamin B deficiency, treatment for it can lower or stop the tingling sensation of the skin. An anti-viral drug can help stop the burning pain on the affected skin and can be used to treated shingles.
It is a common thing to wonder “why does my skin hurt” when you are experiencing one of these conditions. To lessen your symptoms, your doctor may suggest different types of medications which can range from anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal such as ibuprofen, to anesthetic drugs such as ketamine. Narcotics including tramadol, morphine or alfentanil as well as a topical pain medication like capsaicin or aspercreme cream may also be prescribed by your doctor.
Even naproxen or other anti-inflammatory drugs could be used to prevent over sensitization in the central nervous system so allodynia can be treated. There are certain drugs specifically for migraines, such as triptans, which may be not effective when tested in migraine attacks with no allodynia. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Ketorolac, and dihydroergotamine will work well when they are injected with allodynia currently present.
When to See a Doctor
Tender or sensitive skin could be a symptom of a medical condition that needs the right treatment. If you feel like your skin is unusually sensitive, you may be experiencing allodynia. Seeking medical attention is wise so that any underlying cause can be treated and you can be relieved from the sensitivity.