Sensory Solutions

I hate showering.

Well, not really the shower itself.  That part is rather pleasant.  And I don’t particularly like being sweaty or dirty, so I like that I wind up clean.  I even like that it’s an efficient way to warm up or cool down if I need to.  What I don’t like is that I also get itchy.

Very itchy.

Want-to-tear-my-skin-off itchy.

It’s awful.

I finally decided that I wanted to (again) figure out what was going on and find a way to fix it.  I’ve tried a number of things already, all of them assuming that the itchiness was caused by dry skin.  I use very good soaps, I moisturize, I use soft washcloths, etc.  All that might help a little bit, but ultimately the problem remains.  Besides, when I think about it the problem is not dry skin.  Dry skin itchies have a specific feel.  Post-shower itchies have more of a crawling-beneath-my-skin feel.

So I started paying attention more.  As far as I can tell, it’s linked to scrubbing actions – scrubbing myself when I wash, and then scrubbing myself again when I dry.  My new best guess is that showering makes my nervous system go hyperactive, which means the best solution is to find some way to calm it down.

Then I remembered something I had read a while back.  Someone had written about wanting long hair, but having problems because long hair triggered sensory problems.  Someone else had suggested hair brushing as a solution.  Specifically, really firm brushing that scraped at the scalp.  I didn’t pay much attention because I already comb my hair that way, and my long hair doesn’t bother me.  But then I thought – maybe combing my skin could help the itchies!

So I tried it.


It still isn’t a perfect solution, but it makes things so very much better.  I started with the same comb I use on my hair – just drawing it down my arms and legs in a smooth, even motion.  A few minutes of that fixed my arms entirely.  My legs are more challenging – once I stopped combing the itchies came back within a few minutes.  However, even that few minutes reprieve tells me that I am probably on to something.  I invested in a boar’s bristle brush to see if that would work better, but I honestly think my comb is working best so far.  It’s also better if I start before the itchies get a chance to really build up – an ounce of prevention and all that.

All of which means I am definitely in favor of brushing or combing skin as one method to deal with sensory issues in the skin.  It seems to be working pretty well for me.


Filed under issue, personal

7 responses to “Sensory Solutions

  1. Neeneko

    Glad to hear it is working!

  2. hey 🙂 Fellow aspie girl here, I have sensory issues with the rops of water hitting my skin (i know, lol……) and it makes me itchy, very unbearably itchy afterwards if the pressure is too high in the shower. Try getting an adjustable….thingy (sorry, I’m french, the part from which the water comes out?) buy one that allows you to adjust the pressure. When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me to slip a sock over the shower…head? it’s “head right? I got it!! to lower the pressure. It’s a bit awkward to shower this way though, thankfully modern technology has made adjustable shower heads available to all :p

  3. Just wondering if you are still doing this brushing when you shower? I am an occupational therapist and this is something I recommend for parents to do with their children (have you heard of the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol?). I have often wondered if it would benefit adults with sensory issues too. I don’t use the Wilbarger Brushing program exactly, but my theory is that daily whole body tactile input like what you describe would help to decrease tactile sensitivities that a lot of children (and adults!) have.


    • I have not heard of the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol! I do still comb my skin as a way to cope with sensory things, though. It can be remarkably helpful.

  4. Isn’t this exactly what people do when they scratch! Just magnified and analysed. I love analysing things and thinking of solutions. 😀