Easing the Pain of Hyper-Sensitive Skin
By Chris Brown
At the start of 2022, I caught COVID-19. While recovering in self-isolation, I woke one morning to find that all the skin on my upper body was ultra-sensitive to the touch. It was a sensitivity that caused sharp, painful pricks whenever something rested against it so that the sensation of wearing a shirt was that of a million little needles poking into my back, shoulders, and chest. I learned later that I had developed a syndrome, not unheard of with inflammatory viral diseases such as COVID-19, called cutaneous hyperesthesia (or skin hypersensitivity). Lucky for me, the symptoms had reduced significantly by the following day and gradually subsided entirely as I recovered. In some cases, though, cutaneous hyperesthesia can be a chronic, limiting condition with an array of causes and cures.
Skin Too Sensitive For Its Own Good
Cutaneous hyperesthesia is the touch version of multiple types of sense hypersensitivity conditions. It can have a number of root causes but ultimately results from damage to the branches of the nervous system. This is why cutaneous hyperesthesia can be either localized or widespread, depending upon which branch of the nervous system is affected. The conditions that can give rise to such neural interruptions include nutritional diseases, toxic exposure, physical trauma, genetic predisposition, and infections (typically viral). In my case, the COVID-19 virus impacted my nervous system to cause this upper body skin sensitivity. What I didn't know at the time was that, while rare, COVID-19 skin sensitivity was not altogether undocumented.
During the start of the pandemic, the Department of Dermatology at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland started hearing reports of COVID-19 patients developing cases of cutaneous hyperesthesia. In a review of two such case studies, the department found that both patients who developed cutaneous hyperesthesia from COVID had their symptoms decline alongside the rest of their COVID manifestations. Their painful skin condition was alleviated with warm baths and anti-inflammatory medication primarily designed to provide temporary pain relief. However, for other causes of cutaneous hyperesthesia, some treatments may help more permanently quell the pain.
Like most conditions, treatment of hypersensitive skin is dependent on determining the root cause of the condition. However, as the nervous system damage that causes cutaneous hyperesthesia is typically connected to inflammation, it is often treated by reducing body-wide inflammation with either medication or anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes. Additionally, a common player in many sensitive skin cases is Vitamin B12 deficiency. Supplementing with B12 can be an easy fix if a nutritional deficiency is keeping your skin in pain.
Although the nervous system benefits of chiropractic suggest its use as a treatment for the neuropathic pain of cutaneous hyperesthesia, the heightened touch sensitivity may mean it is most applicable as a preventative measure. Because they do not wish to inflict further pain, doctors recommend patients with cutaneous hyperesthesia wait until after symptoms have subsided before seeking spinal manipulation treatment. However, chiropractic care, along with Vitamin B12 supplementation, can help ensure that episodes of hypersensitive skin remain an affliction of your past.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Douglasville, Ga.