What are the possible causes and remedies for sensitivity to touch?

Symptom Database

Sensitivity to touch, also known as touch sensitivity or tactile sensitivity, refers to a heightened response to physical contact or pressure. It can manifest as discomfort, pain, or an overwhelming sensation when touched. This condition can be attributed to various factors, including sensory processing disorder, hypersensitivity to touch, or tactile defensiveness. Understanding the possible causes and remedies for sensitivity to touch is crucial in managing and alleviating its symptoms.

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition that affects how the brain receives and responds to sensory information. Individuals with SPD may have difficulty processing and integrating sensory stimuli, including touch. This can result in hypersensitivity to touch, leading to discomfort or even pain when touched.

Remedies for sensitivity to touch associated with sensory processing disorder include:

  • Seeking occupational therapy: Occupational therapists can provide specialized interventions to help individuals with sensory processing difficulties. They may use techniques such as sensory integration therapy to desensitize the individual to touch and improve their tolerance.
  • Using deep pressure techniques: Applying deep pressure to the body can provide a calming effect and reduce sensitivity to touch. This can be achieved through activities like weighted blankets, compression clothing, or deep pressure massages.
  • Engaging in sensory diet activities: A sensory diet involves incorporating specific sensory activities throughout the day to regulate sensory input. This can include activities like brushing the skin with a soft brush, using textured surfaces, or engaging in proprioceptive activities like jumping or pushing against resistance.

Tactile Defensiveness

Tactile defensiveness is a specific type of sensory processing difficulty characterized by an extreme aversion or negative reaction to touch. Individuals with tactile defensiveness may experience heightened sensitivity to certain textures, temperatures, or pressure.

Remedies for sensitivity to touch associated with tactile defensiveness include:

  • Gradual exposure therapy: Gradually exposing individuals to different textures and sensations can help desensitize them and reduce their aversion to touch. This can be done through activities like touching different fabrics, playing with sensory bins, or engaging in messy play.
  • Using desensitization techniques: Techniques such as brushing therapy, where a soft brush is used to provide deep pressure to the skin, can help desensitize individuals with tactile defensiveness. Other techniques may include using vibrating tools or engaging in joint compressions.
  • Creating a sensory-friendly environment: Modifying the individual’s environment to minimize sensory triggers can help reduce sensitivity to touch. This can involve using soft lighting, reducing background noise, or providing comfortable seating options.

Sensory Integration

Sensory integration refers to the brain’s ability to organize and interpret sensory information from the environment. When there is a disruption in sensory integration, individuals may experience difficulties in processing and responding to sensory stimuli, including touch.

Remedies for sensitivity to touch associated with sensory integration issues include:

  • Engaging in sensory integration therapy: Sensory integration therapy aims to improve the brain’s ability to process and respond to sensory information. This therapy involves engaging in activities that challenge the individual’s sensory systems, such as swinging, climbing, or balancing exercises.
  • Using sensory tools and strategies: Providing individuals with sensory tools and strategies can help them regulate their sensory input and reduce sensitivity to touch. This can include using fidget toys, weighted vests, or incorporating sensory breaks throughout the day.
  • Implementing a sensory-friendly routine: Establishing a predictable and structured routine can help individuals with sensory integration difficulties feel more secure and reduce sensitivity to touch. This can involve providing visual schedules, using timers for transitions, or incorporating calming activities into the daily routine.

In conclusion, sensitivity to touch can be caused by various factors, including sensory processing disorder, tactile defensiveness, or sensory integration issues. Understanding the underlying causes and implementing appropriate remedies is essential in managing and alleviating the symptoms associated with touch sensitivity. Seeking professional guidance from occupational therapists or sensory integration specialists can provide valuable insights and strategies to improve sensory processing and enhance overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment