Individuals who are affected by allodynia often complain of pain or sensitivity even to non-painful stimuli, which could even mean a slight touch. This HealthHearty write-up lists out the contributing factors for this sensation.
The largest organ of the body, our skin is a part of the integumentary system of the human body. This organ system also includes the hair, nails, and exocrine glands. The skin protects the body from various kinds of damage. However, it can get damaged due to trauma or exposure to irritants present in the environment. At times, the topical application of certain cosmetic products or contact with some products (detergents or chemicals) can have an adverse effect on the skin. There are several conditions that can affect the skin. More often than not, skin problems are characterized by a change in the color and texture of the skin. The skin of the affected individual might develop rashes, blisters, spots, bumps, etc. Other symptoms could include pain on touching the affected part of the skin.
When Does the Skin Become Sensitive to Touch
Individuals affected by tactile/mechanical allodynia often complain about their skin being painful or sensitive to touch. The term ‘allodynia’ is derived from two words called állos and odúnē, which translate to ‘other pain’. This condition is characterized by pain due to a stimulus that doesn’t usually cause or provoke pain. It is categorized into tactile or mechanical allodynia (pain is triggered by touch), static mechanical allodynia (pain that is caused by light touch or pressure), dynamic mechanical allodynia (pain that is caused by brushing the skin), or thermal allodynia (pain that is felt with cold or hot stimuli). The following section lists out the contributing factors for increased sensitivity of the skin to touch:
The term ‘neuropathy’ refers to nerve damage, and it can lead to an increased skin sensitivity. The term ‘peripheral neuropathy’ is characterized by damage to the peripheral nerves. When the sensory nerves are damaged, it could give rise to prickling and tingling sensation, burning or sharp pain in the extremities, numbness, or a reduced ability to feel pain or changes in temperature. It could be a complication of diabetes, which is a medical condition that is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. Trauma or a deficiency of vitamin B could also lead to nerve damage, which in turn could make one susceptible to pain or tingling sensation in the skin.
Migraine is a vascular headache that is characterized by a throbbing pain on one side of the head. It also cause increased sensitivity to light. It can also cause allodynia. People affected by migraine often complain of pain while combing hair or applying moisturizer. More often than not, the skin on the scalp, face, or neck is affected.
Varicella Zoster Virus is the causal pathogen for chickenpox. Once a person is exposed to the virus, the virus enters the body, and lies dormant in the nerve tissue near the brain and the spinal cord. It can get reactivated due to stress. Individuals with a compromised immune system are at a greater risk of developing shingles. When the virus becomes reactivated, it travels along nerve pathways to the skin. It gives rise to symptoms such as pain, burning sensation, numbness, increased skin sensitivity, and the development of rashes on one side of the body. Thereafter, fluid-filled blisters form that break and crust over. Shingles or herpes zoster occurs only in individuals who have developed chickenpox earlier. In some cases, the skin remains sensitive or painful to the touch, long after the blisters have disappeared. This condition is called postherpetic neuralgia.
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is characterized by the development of tender points that are sensitive to pressure. The tender points are localized areas of tenderness under the surface of the skin around the joints in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These tender points hurt when pressed with a finger.The exact cause of this condition is not known. It is characterized by chronic body pain, muscle fatigue, muscle pain, sleep disturbance, and allodynia.
These are medical conditions wherein the myelin sheath that covers the nerve cells gets damaged, thereby causing a variety of symptoms such as paresthesia (abnormal skin sensations), numbness (loss of sensation), dysesthesia (distortion of the sense of touch), trigeminal neuralgia, allodynia, hyperpathia (exaggerated levels of pain evoked by nociceptive stimuli), etc.
Tactile defensiveness is a sensory processing disorder that can result in hypersensitivity to skin sensations related to touch, temperature, and pain. It is a neurological disorder wherein sensory nerves in the brain receive and send inappropriate signals, which in turn triggers an exaggerated feeling of touch in skin.
Thus, a wide range of conditions could cause the skin to become sore or sensitive to touch. Some of these conditions could be of a serious nature. Therefore, medical assistance must be sought by individuals who experience pain or increased skin sensitivity in response to a stimulus that doesn’t provoke pain.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.