Extreme sensitivity
June 9, 2012 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Anyone else extremely annoyed by anything touching their neck? Can this be overcome?

I checked out the previous posts on this, but I didn't seem to share the aversion to human touch or have any pain accompanying my sensitivity.

The problem is that when I wear polo shirts, button down collared shirts, those Northface jackets with the fold down collars, or tie my hair in a ponytail, I can feel the sensation of something touching my neck, and it's extremely distracting! If my hair is down it's fine, but it either has to be all the way down or in a bun, or that little wisp touching my neck will drive me nuts.

Oddly enough, necklaces like pearls or little chains I'm fine with. I'm not a huggy person by any means, and tend to be a little jumpy when people touch me unexpectedly.

Another issue with clothing is that I have to wear a tank top to bed or something else relatively seamless because I can't stand the feeling of seams or folds of clothing bunched up around me. Even my own human body heat gets a little unbearable sometimes, for example my leg touching my other leg.

Possibly related: I'm extremely intuitive and not really at home in the physical world at times. Not really klutzy - more like uncertain when working with my hands, haha.

Is there any way to get over this sensitivity?
posted by sunnychef88 to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
OMG! I have this exact thing especially with my neck. I can't stand if even if someone *in a movie* has a scarf or something around their neck. It's so distracting to me and makes me shudder to think of how it would feel.

I'm pretty intuitive as well, and a sensitive/introverted type. In my case, I don't really think it can be overcome. Just wear things that feel good to you, cut tags out of clothes, etc. Doing the tank top thing underneath shirts is a good strategy.

But, there may be some things that are helpful to you. Have you ever had a massage? I am really ticklish, but after a few massages, I've lost some sensitivity to being ticklish (in a good way). Maybe you could get some neck massages to work out some tension which might be causing your sensitivity, and/or desensitize your neck to touch.

I also work with kids with sensory issues related to touch, and it's made me more aware of everyone's sensory needs in general. Some kids need really tight compression-style clothing to help them focus and get a sense of comfort from them (like a thundershirt), while others will only wear sweatpants and loose clothing because other stuff distracts them and feels too tight.

Everyone has different sensory needs related to touch. One example is that many people can't sleep without at least a sheet on top of them, even if it's hot. They need the sensory feeling of a cover on them to feel comfortable, and associate this with sleep. You might just tend to fall on the more-sensitive-to-touch spectrum within normal limits.

A positive side-effect of being sensitive to touch, I find, is that some types of touch feel *absolutely amazing.* If there is anything like that for you, try to remember that there are upsides to being more sensitive to touch, as well.

If this is something that is really bothering you, you might want to consult an Occupational Therapist who works with sensory issues. Otherwise, just keep doing what makes you most comfortable. (I don't think you'd need to based on your description and question, but if there are other things that bug you or if it is interferring with your daily life, I'd think an OT is the person to help you.)
posted by shortyJBot at 10:29 AM on June 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

The back of my neck, no, but the front of my neck (i.e. my throat)--YES, big time. I can't button collars up all the way or wrap scarves firmly; when they clip a towel around my neck during a haircut, it drives me nuts and I either spend most of the time stressing about it or I end up wedging a finger or two between the towel and my throat to keep it away. Just sitting here with a loose-collared T-shirt on, I can feel a pressure in the low-front of my throat, and it's an occasional habit for me to tug my collar away from that spot even if it isn't really touching.

It's been this way since I was young, though I don't remember if it's been for my whole life or if it started up at some particular age. And unfortunately, I don't have solutions for it, so I'll be curious to see what ideas might come from others that I can try. But I thought I'd answer your first question, at least--yep, extremely annoyed by anything touching my neck (if just the throat counts). Arrrrgh.
posted by theatro at 10:47 AM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't mind the band holding my pony tail rubbing against my neck, but I absolutely cannot stand the pony tail or any of my hair being down inside my collar/shirt. And when I see someone pull on a shirt and not immediately pull their hair outside of the collar it literally makes me feel squirmy and uncomfortable. I am so glad that I'm not a male and expected to wear a neck tie, because I could not abide having cloth clinging so tightly to the back of my neck. I'm also very sensitive about my underarms; I'm forever tugging away when I wear a T-shirt or other close-fitting garment to pull it away from the armpit. I can't bear to be constricted in that area. I've since been diagnosed with OCD and apparently there are behavioral therapies that can help this particular aspect of the condition, but I must confess that I never returned after my first session because I just couldn't bear the preliminary, tentative exercises of having something tight around my neck. But that's just me and my personal experience. If you're up to the challenge, talk to your doctor about your issues and ask about the various behavior therapy sessions available in your area.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:46 AM on June 9, 2012

I'm only this way with people touching my neck, especially unexpectedly... in an, ahem, intimate situation it tends to differ, I guess because I can anticipate it.
I swear part of this is genetic...my grandmother and cousins (on the same side of the family) are even worse about it than I am. Now that I think of it, I hardly ever wear necklaces, scarves, etc. Can't stand even a mock turtleneck. I'm also a bit weird about people touching my wrists, don't wear a watch, rarely wear bracelets, etc.

I think shortyJBot has some good points... just do what feels right for you, but no, you're not alone in this. If its somehow interfering with your day-to-day life to the extent where not wearing things that irritate you isn't enough, I think maybe even touching your own neck more often might help? An someone suggested, a shoulder/neck massage (by either a professional or someone you trust -- a SO, family member, close friend) might help out with just "hey, my neck is being touched and I don't love it but nothing bad is happening".
posted by jorlyfish at 12:36 PM on June 9, 2012

I'm like this too, though I have other sensitivities (probably Asperger's and definitely OCD) as well. Basically, the only way to get over it is exposure as Oriole described— wearing this stuff or doing the thing that bothers you over and over till you desensitize to it, starting with small exposures and building up over time. Since that tends to be the opposite of what you want to do, many people don't do it (like Oriole— that's far from a unique experience with exposure, a large percent of people can't stand it) and just avoid having stuff around their neck. I never wear turtlenecks or itchy fabric, for example. The fact that you don't have to wear nylons any more makes me extremely happy as well, as I simply could never tolerize to them.
posted by Maias at 1:06 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am also on Team Don't Touch My Neck. I also hate it when people touch my back. I do have some sensory integration issues (the seams thing is another one of mine, and I have to buy nightdresses that are at least four sizes too big or I freak out and can't sleep).

Getting my hair cut short has made my life much happier, but I suppose that's an extreme solution. I used to hate to have my hair on my neck and would pin it up all the time, which was a horrible look for me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2012

Me too! I can't wear turtlenecks, chokers, or tight scarves, and I don't like having my neck touched without prior arrangement. I can deal with massages and having my hair cut, but I'm always uncomfortable when other people touch it. It just feels really vulnerable and sensitive. I have a rather long, slender neck, which might be a factor. I play the violin, and weirdly, holding that against my neck doesn't bother me... maybe because there's no constriction.

I helped the sensitivity a bit by gently patting or holding my neck every now and again, when I already felt calm (like watching TV). YMMV.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:21 PM on June 9, 2012

Oh thank you everyone! People think I am odd because I cannot BEAR to have my throat touched. I am OK with my ponytail but if my hair creeps forward onto my throat ARGH. I also hate having my wrists or insides of my elbows touched, although I can wear bracelets and watches and things with sleeves where I hate a tight scarf or a polo neck, thinking about a polo neck makes me feel a bit sick. I also hate to see other people touch their neck.

I reckon hypnotherapy could help though as I got good results for a medical phobia from that.
posted by LyzzyBee at 2:33 AM on June 11, 2012

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