Skin Sore to Touch: Causes and Treatment of Allodynia

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Why is my skin sore to touch? Here’s everything you need to know about allodynia.

Why is my skin sore to touch?

Normally, your nerves communicate information about touch to your brain.

However, for some people, their nerves become oversensitive to stimuli, or their brain’s reaction to the stimulus is amplified. It makes your skin sore to touch.

There are two types of skin conditions that bring over-sensitivity: hyperalgesia (hypersensitivity) and allodynia.

What is allodynia?

Allodynia is a rare symptom that may be caused by a number of nerve-related disorders.

When you have it, you experience pain from stimuli that typically do not induce pain. Touching your skin gently or combing your hair, for example, might be painful.

Allodynia is uncommon, however, it is prevalent in those suffering from neuropathic pain. According to research, allodynia affects 15 to 50% of persons suffering from neuropathic pain.

Allodynia Vs Hyperalgesia

When you have hyperalgesia, you feel pain from something that is normally just moderately unpleasant for others.

Cold, for example, maybe unpleasant for many individuals, but it can be very severe for persons who have hyperalgesia.

Allodynia is pain caused by something that isn’t normally bothersome to others, such as when your blankets brush against your feet in bed.

What are the types of allodynia?

Allodynia may be categorized into three types:

1. Mechanical or (dynamic) allodynia

An unpleasant feeling that arises when a person’s skin is irritated by normally innocuous stimuli flowing over it, such as gentle touch

2. Static (or tactile) allodynia

A very painful feeling

3. Thermal allodynia

It is caused by small changes in temperature.

Allodynia, according to Dr. Johnson, is not a medical disorder in itself; rather, it is a symptom that may be connected with specific forms of pain.

Related: How to Stop Skin Picking: Tips to Stop the Habit

What it feels like

Saying your skin is sore to touch may not appropriately describe allodynia. There are many different ways in which people describe this sort of discomfort.

Here’s how it’s often described.

  • A burning sensation or the sensation that your skin is on fire
  • It’s like walking on glass.
  • Pain that stabs or feels like pins and needles.

Symptoms of Allodynia

The most common symptom of allodynia is a sensation of pain that is triggered by stimuli that are not normally painful.

In rare situations, you may be sensitive to either hot or cold weather.

Gentle pressure on the skin may also cause you discomfort.

The feeling of brushing or another movement along your skin or hair may cause discomfort.

Sometimes the symptoms could be different depending on the underlying cause.

If the allodynia is caused by migraine, you might also experience:

  • severe headaches
  • over-sensitive to light and sounds
  • changes in vision
  • nausea

If it’s linked to fibromyalgia, symptoms could be:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Sleeplessness
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • depression

8 Causes of Allodynia

According to him, allodynia may be felt by a “simple touch, such as placing a blanket over the painful spot or wearing tight clothing.”

You will need to address the underlying source of allodynia in order to alleviate it.

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1. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disease in which you have muscle and joint pain all over your body that isn’t caused by an accident or a health condition.

Rather, it seems to be related to how your brain receives pain signals from your body.

Scientists aren’t sure what causes it, but it seems to run in families.

Fibromyalgia may also be triggered by infections, stress, or trauma.

2. Migraine

An excruciating headache, nausea, and hypersensitivity to light, sound, or touch are common symptoms of a migraine.

Approximately 50% of migraine sufferers have allodynia, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

The scalp and the side of the head most impacted by the headache are the most common locations where skin sensitivity arises.

3. Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy occurs when a diabetic suffers from nerve damage as a result of an excess of glucose or sugar in the circulation.

Damage to the nerves of the feet and hands, which are the farthest from the brain and spinal cord, is more common.

If the damage is severe enough, the patient may experience discomfort. When you climb into bed and put the covers over your feet, you may feel this ache.

As though you’re walking over a shard of shattered glass, the discomfort may be excruciating.

4. Shingles and postherpetic neuralgia

For months or even years after a shingles rash has faded, allodynia may continue to affect the patient.

Postherpetic neuralgia is the medical term for this sort of pain.

It is more frequent among the elderly and individuals with immune system problems such as HIV or cancer treatment.

A painful rash is caused by the reactivated virus, which inflames and damages nerve cells.

Although the rash is most often seen on the side and back, it may appear anywhere on the body.

A “dermatome” is a single neuron that travels through the skin.

Related: Dry Scalp Treatment: Prescriptions and Home Remedies

5. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, according to Michael, may harm peripheral nerves due to its toxin-like effects on nerves. Allodynia may occur as a result of this nerve injury.

It was shown that chemotherapy might cause mechanical allodynia in a 2019 research on mice.

6. Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a term used to describe discomfort in the vulva, a component of the female genital system.

There are several activities that might cause or increase discomfort, including intercourse, inserting a tampon, tight clothing, and sitting or biking.

There is no known cause. Vulvodynia’s prevalence is unknown since many women do not report it to their doctors.

7. Opioid intake

According to a 2017 study, opioid usage may cause hyperalgesia, a disease characterized by exaggerated pain that can develop into allodynia.

As Dr. Johnson explains, “Opioids may create alterations in the central nervous system, which can also contribute to an increase in the various perceptions of pain, including but not limited to allodynia,”

One of the side effects of long-term usage of opioids is an increase in the amount of pain medication needed which could trigger allodynia.

“Overuse of opioids may have a “paradoxical impact,” causing pain and sensitivity to increase rather than decrease,” he adds.

8. Nutrition and diet

Michael points out that vitamin shortages may contribute to the development of allodynia.

“Vitamin insufficiency may induce nerve injury and, as a result, allodynia, it is critical to correct and cure deficits in vitamins B12, E, B6, folic acid, copper, and B1,” he explains.

Foods heavy in fat and sugar are likely to exacerbate allodynia symptoms.

When to see a doctor

Skin sore to touch; if you’re experiencing persistent skin sensitivity, speak with your doctor to investigate the cause.

If you get a rash with significant discomfort, you may have shingles and should seek treatment as soon as possible, as well as any other tests that may be required.

Call your doctor if you get numbness or tingling in your feet. It’s could be a symptom of diabetes.

How is allodynia diagnosed?

Is your skin sore to touch? You could do a self-test to see whether you have signs of allodynia.

Here’s how:

  • Apply a clean, dry cotton pad to your skin. Brush your skin with a dry cotton pad
  • Apply a compress on your skin.

You may have allodynia if you get a painful tingling sensation in reaction to any of these stimuli. However, consult with a doctor to confirm this.

Your doctor will review any underlying diseases, such as diabetes, and will question you about your symptoms.

When trying to figure out if the pain is neuropathic, like allodynia, it’s very important to describe the way the pain feels.

You could use terms that will enable the doctor to understand you better such as:

  • constant
  • intermittent
  • radiating
  • burning
  • throbbing

Dr. John Mccall, explains that after a clinician has confirmed allodynic pain, they may do further testing to uncover the root reason.

In order to determine the root of the problem, further diagnostic procedures may include:

Hemoglobin A1c blood tests, for example

  • MRI
  • an examination of muscle tone called an electromyogram (EMG).

Related: Vampire Facial: Everything you should know about it

How to Treat Allodynia

The treatment for allodynia depends on the underlying cause.

How to treat migraine

Medications may stop a migraine headache from starting.

These include triptans and newer CGRP inhibitors. You could inhale, take them as pills, or injection.

Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle modifications such as exercise, sleep, nutrition, or weight reduction to help reduce migraine frequency.

How to treat diabetic neuropathy

Other procedures, such as nerve conduction tests, may be required by your doctor to discover the source of your neuropathy.

The most essential thing you can do is regulate your blood sugar.

The numbness caused by diabetic neuropathy is typically irreversible, although the discomfort may be treated with drugs such as gabapentin.

How to treat shringles

Antiviral drugs like valacyclovir and pain relievers like ibuprofen or gabapentin are used to treat shingles.

After the shingles rash fades, you may still feel discomfort in the affected region.

Taking antiviral medicine early may lessen the risk of developing long-term discomfort (postherpetic neuralgia).

However, if you are suffering from severe pain, your doctor may give you additional drugs in addition to gabapentin.

Other treatment options include:

  • cognition-based treatment (CBT)
  • hemp-derived cannabidiol oil
  • Sokeikakketsuto treatment for chemotherapy patients
  • spinal cord stimulation
  • nerve blockers
  • Lidocaine (Xylocaine) and pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • naproxen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Indomethacin
  • lifestyle changes, such as a more active lifestyle and a healthier diet

How can I prevent allodynia?

Allodynia can be painful so we understand if you want to prevent it. Dr. Mccall says allodynia isn’t entirely preventable, but treating the underlying causes could be a way to go.

If you are diabetic, it’ll be safe to control your sugar levels. In case you had shingles, try to control your stress and anxieties which are triggers.

A doctor will advise you on what to do.


Allodynia could make your skin sore to touch. If you experience unusual pins on your skin when you do things like brushing your skin with a cotton pad, then you should see a doctor.

Causes of allodynia include migraine, diabetic neuropathy. Consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

But, if you have questions about this article? Kindly drop it in the comment box below, we will be happy to help you.

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