An arm, wrist, and hand covered in crawling ants, experiencing an itchy sensation.

Skin Sensations With MS

As the winter trudges on, I’ve managed to get a few double takes from my friends. This is usually followed by a surprised look and a simple question: “Pants?” You see, for many years, I’ve been one of those strange people that you might find wearing shorts and flip-flops all year round. Yep, even in the dead of winter.

Suffering from skin sensitivity

While I’m sure many will think that has to do with the problems that warm temperatures cause me, well, you’d be right, but only partially so. For many years, I’ve suffered from weird sensations in my legs. Most notably, I’d have days where my legs would seem very sensitive to touch. I stopped wearing heavy pants because it would be painful when they brushed against my legs. Weird sensations, sensitivity to touch, and other skin-related issues affect many people with MS.

The slightest touch could cause pain

When it comes to MS symptoms, I’ve talked a lot about pain over the years. I most often talk about the deep, searing nerve pain I feel. However, that’s not the full extent of my experience. As I mentioned above, I have gone through stretches of time where my legs would be very sensitive to touch. Enough that even something as light as fabric grazing it would cause me pain. In my case, this pain would feel like either a burning sensation or a sudden numb and tingling one. It became enough of an issue for me that it impacted the way I dressed and went about my day. I confess, there were times when I was in relationships where it impacted the intimacy between me and my partner as well. Having part of your body hurt when touched, even if it’s mostly your legs, doesn’t exactly make things pleasant in the bedroom.

Weird sensations in my legs

Throughout my life with MS, I’ve encountered a lot of strange sensations when it comes to my skin. Most common for me is the feeling that part of my body (typically my legs, but occasionally my shoulders as well), feels like it’s soaking wet. This isn’t as bad as pain, but it’s pretty weird. Imagine just sitting there and you suddenly feel like your legs are soaked with water? Even when I know what it is, I still feel the need to reach over and check. This is another reason I would wear shorts so much; being able to look and see my leg wasn’t wet somehow seemed to be helpful for me. I’ve had other weird sensations throughout my life with MS too. One such sensation, well, have you ever heard someone say something “makes their skin crawl?” That describes that sensation as best as I can.

Itching and other phantom sensations

When discussing skin symptoms and MS, it’s important to mention itching. While not something I’ve experienced, it is quite common. Unlike most itching (like with a bug bite or allergic reaction), there is no rash or swelling. Your skin just itches. That’s because, like the pain and weird sensations discussed before this, there isn’t anything wrong with the area where these sensations seem to be occurring. All of these are caused by the damage MS has done to our nerves. The nerves in the skin or along the path from the skin to the brain are damaged and that is what is making us feel these phantom-type sensations.

If you are experiencing any of these sensations with your skin, be sure to mention it to your neurologist!

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!

Devin

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