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

There are several causes which are possible for skin sensitive to touch, and it could vary from simple sunburn to a serious condition or disease. The following are possible causes:
1

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.

2

Postherpetic Neuralgia

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.

3

Demyelinating Diseases

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.

4

Tactile Defensiveness

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.

5

Migraines

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. 

6

Fibromyalgia

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.

7

Neuropathy

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 atrophychronic 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. Aanti-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.

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  • Kim Roberts Oct.30 18:16
    I am 47yrs old and suffer with fibromyalgia, migraines with aura, narcolepsy, bipolar, osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis and several other illnesses. Beginning as early as 7th grade I remember having issues with skin sensitivity although at that time I had no idea what was happening. I only knew then that the tag/ collar of my shirt seemed to bother me. Later I began noticing that my bra was constantly irritating me and I could only wear a certain one to be comfortable (it still bothered me but not as much). After my first 2 children were born I was in a horrible vehicle accident that injured my upper back, neck, arms and caused an unfortunate mood disorder (diagnosed years later). The accident happened in 1994, I suffered tremendously through illness after illness, pain after pain, diagnosis after diagnosis until here I am in 2016 a shell of the woman I used to be. The problem I have suffered from for so long and has gotten to a point that I feel I am going crazy is my hypersensitive skin!!! I cannot stand anything touching me!! When I put my clothes on they have to fit me "just right" and even then I continue to tug and pull at them constantly until I can get back home and rip them off my body to put my pjs back on!! My pjs have to be loose, a tshirt and jogging pants plus my underwear has to be big enough to not ride up. Even if I get all this right with my pjs I am still having to continuously rearrange to stop sensitivity!! At bedtime it takes me at least 15-20mins to get everything touching just comfortable enough so that I can convince myself I can relax to go to sleep. I can't handle it anymore!!!!! PLEASE HELP!!!!!
  • John DavisOct.17 02:35
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm 35 year old Caucasian male, I've had this for years too. It feels like someone repeatedly slapped me in one location very hard, it just aches bad. No tingling, just hurts like someone slapped me. The skin aches can move to different locations all over my body, and I only hurt in one spot at a given time and can last a very long time. No rashes or heat, only I know where its originating from! I seem to get more aches in my legs, but can happen anywhere. I have been diagnosed with low levels of Vit-D and Vit-B (there are several different Vit-B's). I was tired a lot and the doctor put me on a B-12 supplement, I think. That helped with the tiredness, but the skin aches still happened. I took biochemistry and the professor said how important B-1 is not knowing about my problem at all. On a whim i bought some B-1 supplements and have noticed that if I get a skin ache, the Vit. B-1 will make it go away really fast, almost like there's a correlation to be made. Taking B-1 has since helped me every time!!!!! Later I got blood work done and I was taking one or two B-1 a week and my levels were in the low to normal range, so they said to keep doing what I'm doing. I stopped taking B-1 and BOOM, came back a few months later. Took a few tablets yesterday and it was gone today!
  • TiffanyJul.17 16:53
    I'm 24, and I have a severe vitamin D deficiency. I'm experiencing slight pain when certain object press against my skin, like clothes . But it doesn't happen all the time and it occurs in different areas like my back legs and arms. Im not sure if this has something to do with my deficiency or one of these problems listed. It gets worse if My skin is subjected to sunlight without sunburn. Any one else have this problem?
  • julie marieJul.12 11:11
    I've had symptoms like this since I was a young girl. It typically starts on either my pinky finger or wrist, and moves it's way up my arm to my chest. Ocassionally, it starts on my hip, as it did this time, & moves up my torso and down my legs. My skin becomes hypersensitive to touch, & feels like it's been burned. And typically it happens when I'm under extreme stress. Since I suffer from depression and anxiety, I'm under extreme stress all the time. I had a very bad case of chicken pox when I was 5, and wonder if it's related to shingles. But, fibromyalgia runs in my family as well. I'm wondering if anyone knows of home treatments. I don't have insurance & can't afford to go to the doctor.
  • susanne adewale Jun.20 23:33
    Hi I'm 34 , I been suffering with this for years now, it happens on my arms and legs but recently down the right side of my chest/stomach. I also suffer from neuralgia, sharp almost like electric shocks running across my head and neck, could the two be related?
  • SarahJun.17 04:20
    I am 18 and very sensitive to touch when something comes into contact with my skin, but unless the object or creature is inflicting it, I do not feel any pain. If I stroke a finger down my arm, it tickles. I have always been this way. Is this cause for concern?
  • Betsy MattuchioJun.13 20:02
    The top of my left hand is sensitive to the touch and painful.I use my tablet alot for long lenghts of time.Its when i put it down that i noticed the pain,somethings it hurt worse than normal,but it never goes away its always there but not as intense.
  • Ali AJun.8 15:27
    Hello. I am 21, male. I have this area or a patch of skin on the back. It's about the finger tip size. I put my finger tip on the skin and I can move it back and forth. I don't even need to press hard. The upper most layer kinda moves a bit back and forth for that area. Feels like it's soft. There's no pain on touch perse but I get these sharp pain on and off after rubbing that area. It goes away after a while. The pain is ignorable. There is no pain if I leave the patch of skin alone. I think there's no change in colour and it's been there for awhile, that is over a year. Is it something to worry about? Should I be concerned?
  • Julia BobenmoyerJun.5 14:38
    It started after I had surgery, 2 years ago I had my Ovaries removed, after that I started experiencing sensitivity in my hands and feet, tingling, itchy, very sensitive to touch, if I barely scratched or scrape against something it's so painful, burning last for a couple minutes then lingers just waiting for the next touch. What to do?
  • Logan KeastJun.2 04:26
    i have burning feelings in my wrist and forearms when someone touches it. It doesn't happen all the time but it is really annoying.
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