One minute you are sitting comfortably, and the next you start itching or feeling as if small insects were crawling just underneath your skin. You scratch, and scratch, and scratch, and scratch some more, but the itch doesn’t go away. Then you proceed to have a good scrub shower, but still nothing. You take some ointments for mites, get your pet tied away, get your house deep cleaned, your carpet steamed, and even seek medicinal intervention. But still nothing! Not to sound like scare-mongers, but these could be early symptoms of a serious disease of brain and spinal cord nerve cells, called Multiple Sclerosis (MS).But these itchy, tingly, and prickly sensations under the skin can also be caused by something as innocuous as following:
- Maintaining same body posture for extended periods of time
- An injury or pressure point created on a nerve
- Pressure on the spinal nerves due to a herniated disk
- Lack of blood supply to an area due to own body weight
- Restricted blood flow due to plaque buildup from atherosclerosis
- Medicinal side effects, or a lack of vitamin B12 or other vitamins
- Effect of alcohol, tobacco, or lead
- Imbalance of calcium, potassium, or sodium in the body.
However, most often these sensations are caused by Anxiety, and there can be many triggers for the sensations
Anxiety activated stress response
Anxiety can trigger a kind of fight or flight response in the body by secreting stress hormones in the bloodstream, which then travel to the targeted spot and produce specific physiological changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with the threat. Some of these physiological changes can manifest as itching, tingling, a prickly sensation, or a whole bunch of other unusual feelings and sensations in various parts of the body.
Normally, your body will recover rather quickly from the above mentioned physiological, psychological, and emotional stress responses if they are not too frequent. But when these stress responses are too frequently or very strong, your body might take longer to recover, resulting in a prolonged state of semi hyper stimulation, causing a whole bunch of erratic sensations, including itching, tingling, or a prickly sensation.
When the CO2 level in your blood drops because you did not breathe deep enough to get enough oxygen (Hypoventilation), you can get similar sensations under your skin. On the other hand, if you inhale too much oxygen, thereby increasing the level of CO2 in your blood (Hyperventilation), you can get a similar sensation. Normally, these sensations will go away when the level of CO2 in your blood is normalized.
Vitamin B deficiency
If you have been under stress for a prolonged period of time, your body might have suffered a reduction in essential nutrients and vitamins, including Vitamin B. A deficiency of Vitamin B can also cause these sensations.
Reaction to medication
A lot of medications, especially anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, can also have side effects that may manifest in the form of these sensations.
When these abnormal sensations are caused by anxiety, deep breathing and calming yourself will generally provide relief from the stress response, and as your body recovers from the symptoms of anxiety, these sensations will go away in about 20 minutes or so. If the sensation still persists, visit your Doctor for a proper evaluation and treatment.