Among the many, many things which became prevalent due to the COVID19, is ‘skin hunger’. What is this new term? Is it a medical condition? Or a sexual kink? Does everyone experience it?
Read on to find the answers to all these questions popping up in your brain right now.
What is Skin Hunger?
Commonly known as ‘touch deprivation’, this condition occurs whenever a person gets little to zero ‘touch’ from other living beings. This is due to the simple fact that humans are wired to experience touch. From the day we are born to till we die, our craving for physical touch remains.
Some people also address skin hunger as touch hunger, affection deprivation, or touch depression.
So it’s a real thing?
Yup. It’s not a fad. Touch is very important for human beings, especially for communicating our emotions and/or maintaining our relationships; found many types of research. There is immense emphasis on the requirement of social touch in human development, say many studies.
Physical ‘touch’ could activate specific areas of the human brain. It might also influence our thought processes, physiological responses and reactions.
For example, this research points out that the orbitofrontal cortex is activated by affective touch. This specific area of our brain is directly involved with social and emotional behaviors, along with decision making and learning.
For anyone who is experiencing high amounts of stress, touch can also be a way to calm and reassure them. When a child is in distress, patting, embracing, or any other form of physical touch always has a soothing effect, shows a 2017 study. Surprisingly enough, a 2015 study shows that physical touch might help fight certain infections as well.
Hence, a lack of physical contact might lead some people to experience ‘touch starvation’ i.e., skin hunger.
Does it not apply to sensual touch?
Any type of positive touch is considered to be extremely beneficial. So yes, sensual touches also help.
Because of the COVID19 pandemic, most people have lost out on friendly hugs, workplace handshakes, high fives, pats on the back, etc. Leading them to experience touch hunger. And for some others, it has a brought a lack of sensual touches, for example, holding hands, snuggles, foot rubbing, etc.
There is a system of nerve fibers that exists only to recognize any type of gentle touch. This system is called C-tactile afferents.
How do I know if I’m ‘touch starved’?
There is no defined or definitive way to know if you’re touch starved. However, in a shell, you may experience extreme loneliness or feel deprived off affection.
The symptoms could be intertwined with:
- Feeling depressed
- Difficulty in sleeping low relationship satisfaction
- Less relationship satisfaction
- An impulse to avoid safe attachments
You might subconsciously do things like wrapping yourself up in blankets, taking long, soothing, hot baths/showers or, even spending more time with your pet.
What to do to satisfy my skin cravings?
- Use blankets: You can curb your skin cravings by wrapping yourself up in blankets. If possible, go for weighted blankets. Using these could mimic the feeling of receiving a human hug and might help you feel calm and develop a sense of peace.
- Self massage: Try practicing self-massage routines to reduce your skin hunger. For instance, you can start off by massaging your neck to stimulate the vagus nerve; which could help you reduce stress.
- ASMR videos: Some people might experience a pleasant sensation when they are listening to ASMR videos. These soothing sounds activate the area of your brain which processes touch and could lead you to feel calm and relaxed.
- Going down the memory: Human beings store “touch” in their memories, suggests research. Hence, you can also try recalling a previous physical contact instance and focus on your senses, to relive that experience once again.
- Use body pillows: Body pillows can also help you feel comfier while sleeping. Using a body pillow may help some people feel more comfortable during sleep. This could help you recreate the act of snuggles and cuddles.
- Communicate: Staying in contact with your family, or friends or any other loved ones will help you immensely. Only if possible, try sending out a text message, or connecting with them over the phone or video calls. A study shows that there is a direct link between video calls and a reduced feeling of loneliness and isolation.