Have you ever gotten chills down your spine or felt like bugs were crawling on your skin? That uncomfortable prickly sensation is known as formication, and various factors can cause it. While feeling like your skin is crawling can be disturbing, the good news is there are ways to get relief. This article will explore the common causes of skin crawling and provide tips to prevent it.
What Causes Skin Crawling?
A skin-crawling sensation, while creepy, is usually harmless. Here are some of the most common culprits behind this prickly feeling:
1. Temperature Changes
Sudden shifts in temperature can trigger formication. For example, stepping into a hot shower after being cold can create the feeling of pins and needles all over. The same is valid for getting chilly after being overheated. These temperature fluctuations cause a reaction in the nerves under your skin, creating a tingling or crawling feeling.
2. Anxiety and Stress
When you’re stressed or anxious, the nerves become extra sensitive. This can translate into physical symptoms like skin crawling. Times of high anxiety or panic attacks are common triggers for formication.
3. Medication Side Effects
Certain medications list formication or skin tingling as a potential side effect. Drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, or depression can sometimes cause this reaction. Read the label and consult your doctor if you notice skin crawling after starting a new medication.
4. Blood Vessel Constriction
If your blood vessels suddenly constrict, it can temporarily reduce blood flow under the skin. When the blood returns, it causes the nerves to fire, creating a prickly or stinging sensation. Cold temperatures, nicotine, and stimulant drugs can bring on this vascular reaction.
5. Restless Legs Syndrome
This condition creates uncomfortable sensations in the legs when resting or sleeping, often described as creeping, crawling, tingling, or itching. These odd nerve firings make you feel compelled to move your legs for relief.
Stopping the Itchy, Crawling Feeling
While formication is harmless, feeling like bugs are crawling under your skin understandably causes distress. Here are some tips to make this symptom go away:
Eliminating potential triggers can prevent your skin from crawling in the first place. Avoid abrupt temperature swings and stimulants like caffeine, chocolate, or cigarettes. Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, or talking to a therapist. Switch medications if you suspect side effects. Removing the source of the problem stops formication at its roots.
Massage and Heat Therapy
Massaging your skin stimulates blood flow and calms overactive nerves. A heating pad or warm bath also improves circulation, easing that creepy-crawly feeling.
When formication stems from stress or anxiety, calming your mind is critical. Try progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or visualization techniques to relax your mind and body. Getting anxiety under control removes this unsettling physical symptom.
Light physical activity like walking, stretching, or gentle yoga helps reduce formication. Movement stimulates circulation to flush that pins and needles sensation from your skin. Just avoid intense workouts which raise body temperature rapidly.
Sometimes focusing attention elsewhere can essentially “trick” your brain into not processing the crawling sensation. Engage in an immersive activity you enjoy, socialize with friends, or mentally focus on work. Getting absorbed in something else often makes the feeling fade away.
Talking yourself through an episode of formication can help minimize anxiety and reframe how you perceive the sensation. Remind yourself that it’s harmless, temporary, and results from nerves firing. Repeat calming mantras like “This will pass” and “My body is safe.”
For severe or chronic cases, taking an oral antihistamine like Zyrtec or Claritin can provide relief by blocking histamine reactions in the skin. However, please consult your doctor before trying this option long-term, as it can cause drowsiness.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, formication resolves independently or with simple home treatments. Seek medical advice if:
- The crawling sensation doesn’t go away after two weeks.
- It occurs without an apparent trigger.
- You experience other worrisome symptoms like muscle weakness.
- It significantly interrupts your daily functioning.
- Home care strategies still need to be improvement.
While feeling like bugs are crawling on your skin can be disturbing and uncomfortable, you don’t have to live with the sensation. You can successfully stop your skin from crawling with diligent self-care and lifestyle adjustments. Pay attention to your triggers, actively calm your mind and body, and speak with a doctor if symptoms persist. You’ll get relief from that creepy-crawly feeling in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Crawling
What medical conditions cause skin crawling?
Besides anxiety and medication side effects, issues like multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, shingles, and fibromyalgia can also produce skin crawling and tingling. Vitamin deficiencies may also contribute.
Is this sensation dangerous?
In most cases, formication is safe. It’s merely a symptom of something else happening in the body. However, if accompanied by numbness or muscle weakness, see a doctor to rule out a severe neurological issue.
Why does it happen more at night?
Lying still in bed allows you to focus more closely on bodily sensations that go unnoticed during the day. Blood flow also naturally decreases at night, potentially triggering the tingling feeling. Stress and anxiety may also spike in the evening.
Can it be related to menopause?
Yes, hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause can trigger crawling and itching skin. Declining estrogen causes dryness which makes skin more sensitive. Managing other menopausal symptoms can provide relief.
Is there a way to permanently stop it?
Preventing the triggers is usually the key to stopping recurring formication long-term. Things like regulating body temperature, treating anxiety, adjusting medications, and increasing circulation all help avoid instances in the future.