Paresthesia of Skin – What’s That?

Have You Ever Experienced Numbness In Your Hands or Legs?

Do you feel any tingling sensation or crawling in the skin if you are sitting in a particular position for a long time?

Yes, its quite often to experience sensations in skin that fade away after sometime.

Have You Ever Heard About “Paresthesia of Skin”? 

May be or may be not. These sensations are nothing but Paresthesia of Skin.

Let’s explore about this today.

Skin is the largest first line of defense mechanism and acts as a natural physical barrier for pathogens in us. As we humans differ from each other in having different skin color, hair color, color of eyes, height, etc. Similarly, the sensitivity and texture of skin also varies from one individual to another. Some people might experience sensitivity to some chemicals while others do not. likewise, many people also experience different sensations in different parts of the body. 

Sensations of skin include numbness, irritation, burning, itching, tingling, prickling, crawling, etc.These prolonged sensation in medical term is known as Paresthesia and since the sensation occurs in the skin, hence named as Paresthesia of Skin.   

Paresthesia of skin is a medical condition where abnormal sensation occurs in the skin. It can occur in the hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes. The sensations are generally painless yet irritating and frustrating.

Symptoms of Paresthesia

The symptoms include numbness, tingling, irritation, skin crawling, burning, prickling, itching, cold, footdrop, muscular atrophy and weakness. The body parts affected are arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes.

Hold on, all these skin sensations are not always a diseased condition of Paresthesia. We all, at some point of time have experienced such sensations in our skin. Whenever we sit in one position for longer period of time, we feel numbness in our legs. This is because, undue pressure on the nerves prevent signal transfer to the legs. Once we change the position, the pressure from the nerves are released and numbness and tingling sensation disappears. This is an example of temporary Paresthesia that does not require a medical treatment. 

Types of Paresthesia 

There are two types of Paresthesia of Skin:

  • Temporary/Transient Paresthesia (we talked about it earlier)
  • Chronic Paresthesia: In this condition, the sensation is not resolved after sometime. It is characterized by pain and needs a medical attention. If it affects the legs, the sufferer might find it difficult in walking. 

What Causes Paresthesia of Skin?

Despite advancement in the modern medical science the causes of this disease are still a mystery. The exact reasons for this disease to occur is unclear. 

Temporary paresthesia results from a poor blood circulation and pressure on the nerves due to a particular condition such as sitting in a particular position for a longer period of time. Chronic Paresthesia can occur due to any disease such as a stroke, diabetes, sciatica or vitamin deficiency. Frequent drinking habits also cause such condition. Certain medications such as medication for HIV treatment, chemotherapy, anti-seizure medications are also responsible for inducing Chronic Paresthesia.

How Paresthesia is Diagnosed?

Before meeting the doctor, prepare your medical history. List all the medical conditions or diseases from which you are suffering or have suffered  for longer period of your life. Also include the prescribed medications that you follow. Mention any injury that might have occurred due to an accident. Write about your smoking and drinking habits.

After seeing your medical history, the physician might go for some physical examinations and tests to confirm the conditions. Some of the tests recommended are ECG, MRI, Utrasound and Lumber Puncture.

What is Your Risk of Developing Paresthesia?

Knowingly or unknowingly we all suffer from Temporary Paresthesia at some point or the other. People suffering with Diabetes (both Type I and Type II), auto-immune diseases,  having compromised immunity and any neurological conditions are at high risk of developing Chronic Paresthesia. 

Chronic Paresthesia is also linked with diseases like Fibromyalgia, Sciatica,  Migraine, Menopause, Atherosclerosis, etc.

Gender also plays an important role in determining this diseases. In general, women are more prone to this disease than men. 

How to Treat Paresthesia?

Treatment for Paresthesia varies with the severity of the disease and also causes of the disease. Temporary or Transient Paresthesia does not require any medical treatment. Paresthesia caused due to any accident can be cured by physical therapy. Paresthesia due to a disease, generally goes off once the disease is treated permanently. Paresthesia due to any neurological condition that has resulted in permanent nerve damage, the disease might be long lasting. 

Physical therapy is a better solution for treating Paresthesia as it improves blood circulation. Physical therapy such as exercise, yoga, meditation and daily activities induces mobility of limbs and body and strengthens muscles.

Acupuncture, Massage Therapy and Nutritional Therapy are also helpful in treating Chronic Paresthesia of skin. Some people might also need some antidepressants to relief depression resulting from Paresthesia. 

Surgery is always the last option in treating this disease. When nothing works, the physician might go for surgery to remove the pressure from the nerve that is pinched.  

How Can Paresthesia Prevented?

Temporary Paresthesia can be prevented and avoided by following some tips:

  • Do not sit in a position for longer period of time. 
  • Do not put pressure on one of your limbs while sitting.
  • Always stand up and move for a while if you have a sitting job.
  • Maintain a proper weight.
  • Try maintaining a good posture while sitting or standing.
  • Do regular exercises and other physical activities. 

Chronic Paresthesia cannot be prevented but the symptoms can be reduced by physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and nutritional therapy. 

I hope, this article has helped you in gaining knowledge about a disease with which we are not familiar with but have experienced many times in a life time. Please drop your questions and experiences related to this medical condition in the comment section below.

About Dr Namrata, Ph.D.

Author is a PhD in Botany (Environmental Science) with keen interest in Biotechnology and Research work. Currently, she is a full time blogger, posting her views and thoughts related to Science and Life.

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