(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

Touch deprivation: Skin hunger is hard to satiate in times of social distancing

A new study suggests there could be a genetic component to how affectionate we are. Those with a greater predisposition to give and get affection could be struggling more, in the pandemic.
By Harikrishnan Nair | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2020 04:55 PM IST

Natasha (last name withheld on request), 35, has an autoimmune disease that puts her at higher risk for Covid-19. So, for five months, she stayed indoors at her home in Bengaluru, working remotely with the fintech company where she is a team leader.

As the virus raced around the globe, she didn’t feel particularly adventurous and wasn’t interested in taking any chances. What she did crave, though, was contact.

Her live-in partner was in Kerala for work in March and was unable to return across the closed state borders for nearly five months. “Two weeks in, I started craving some warmth,” she says. “I don’t know how to describe it, but I needed something that was not the cold contact of a china mug or the insulation of a blanket. When my partner came home, he had to spend another two weeks in quarantine and finally, when I hugged him, it was such a relief!”

What Natasha’s describing is called skin hunger or touch deprivation.

“The craving for touch is a survival trait. We, as human beings, are born in such a state of immaturity that we have no ability to take care of our own needs,” says Kory Floyd, a professor at the University of Arizona’s department of communication. He released a study — Heritability of Affectionate Communication, published in the journal Communication Monographs in April — suggesting there could be a genetic component to how affectionate we are, and additionally positing that those programmed to need to give and receive more affection could be struggling with skin hunger to a greater degree in the pandemic.

“Touch equals survival for us as infants. If we don’t have someone touching and helping to meet our needs, then we don’t survive,” Floyd says. There are few substitutes for human touch — a pillow or a pet comes closest. Floyd calls both “imperfect, but better than nothing”.

When we feel a positive touch or a hug from someone we have bonded with, it triggers the releases of the hormone oxytocin — also called the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone” for this reason — which leaves you feeling peaceful and contented, and has been shown to also reduce feelings of anxiety and fear.

If you are in the habit of your brain releasing this cuddle hormone on a regular basis — if you are affectionate and in a loving relationship, whether with a parent, child, partner or pet — the lack of it will cause a craving. That’s what skin hunger is.

Dr Paulomi Sudhir, professor of clinical psychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), says it’s important to feel that rush, if you safely can, but the lack of it is unlikely to cause any long-term damage.

“Touch deprivation in the context of Covid-19 is not the touch deprivation of, say, a child deprived of their parents. The absence of both physical and emotional touch early in life can result in traumatic experiences, stress, and anxiety. However, this occurs over a considerable period of time,” Dr Sudhir says. “The deprivation in the Covid context is better understood as associated with reduced chances of infecting or being infected. In that sense it is different from deprivation seen in extremely difficult developmental contexts that results in lasting negative impacts.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The study involved all healthcare providers in the South West of England taking a new approach.(Unsplash)
The study involved all healthcare providers in the South West of England taking a new approach.(Unsplash)

Research suggest simple, cheap test can help save lives from colorectal cancer

ANI, London [uk]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 06:59 PM IST
New research has demonstrated that a simple, cheap test can help identify who is at risk of developing colorectal cancer, aiding early diagnosis and potentially saving lives.
Close
According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with diabetes in India is expected to rise to 69.9 million from 40.9 million by 2025.(Pixabay)
According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with diabetes in India is expected to rise to 69.9 million from 40.9 million by 2025.(Pixabay)

How can you treat diabetes the Ayurvedic way

ANI, Gurugram (haryana) [india]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 05:58 PM IST
One of India's leading Ayurvedic medicines developers, Butterfly Ayurveda, recommends people to take care of their sugar levels with Ayurveda, particularly during this pandemic since they are at huge risk of Covid-19.
Close
Despite the coronavirus restricting gym capacity while shuttering some entirely, the traditional January spike in memberships has matched—and in some ways exceeded—those of years past.(Unsplash)
Despite the coronavirus restricting gym capacity while shuttering some entirely, the traditional January spike in memberships has matched—and in some ways exceeded—those of years past.(Unsplash)

How Covid-19 has permanently changed the fitness industry

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 05:15 PM IST
Covid-19 has accelerated adoption of a hybrid model of online/in-person workouts that more brick-and-mortar gyms are likely to retain when the pandemic recedes.
Close
Representational image(Unsplash)
Representational image(Unsplash)

Fried food intake linked to heightened serious heart disease, stroke risk

ANI
UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:25 PM IST
While fried food is considered detrimental to health, a new study sheds light on its effects. The findings of a pooled analysis of the available research suggest that fried-food intake is linked to a heightened risk of major heart disease and stroke.
Close
It is well known that people who drink a lot of alcohol regularly are at increased risk of developing heart failure, and heart failure can increase the incidence of atrial fibrillation.(Unsplash)
It is well known that people who drink a lot of alcohol regularly are at increased risk of developing heart failure, and heart failure can increase the incidence of atrial fibrillation.(Unsplash)

One alcoholic drink in a day linked to risk of atrial fibrillation: Study

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:21 PM IST
A study of nearly 108,000 people has found that people who regularly drink a modest amount of alcohol are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation, a condition where the heart beats in an abnormal rhythm.
Close
Study: Androgen therapy can be alternative treatment strategy for breast cancer(Twitter/MoriKessler)
Study: Androgen therapy can be alternative treatment strategy for breast cancer(Twitter/MoriKessler)

Study: Androgen therapy can be alternative treatment strategy for breast cancer

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 08:07 AM IST
  • A new discovery finds positive role of androgens in breast cancer treatment. Study says androgen therapy has immediate implications for women resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy
Close
Prior to Covid-19 there was a strong global health discourse that argued against lockdowns and similar mass quarantines.(Bloomberg)
Prior to Covid-19 there was a strong global health discourse that argued against lockdowns and similar mass quarantines.(Bloomberg)

From the Bubonic plague to 2021, why lockdowns look set to stay

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 05:54 PM IST
A year after the lockdown imposed in the Chinese city of Wuhan shocked the world, the tactic is turning out to be an enduring tool for quelling the coronavirus almost everywhere.
Close
The survey also found that those with blood group 'O' may be less susceptible to the infection, while people with 'B' and 'AB' blood groups were at a higher risk.(Unsplash)
The survey also found that those with blood group 'O' may be less susceptible to the infection, while people with 'B' and 'AB' blood groups were at a higher risk.(Unsplash)

Seropositivity for Covid-19 found to be lesser in smokers, vegetarians

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 04:35 PM IST
Smokers and vegetarians were found to have lower seropositivity indicating that they may be at a lesser risk of getting infected by coronavirus.
Close
Malaika Arora does Sarvangasana(Instagram/malaikaaroraofficial)
Malaika Arora does Sarvangasana(Instagram/malaikaaroraofficial)

Malaika Arora's asana for the week is Sarvangasana, it has countless benefits

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 04:24 PM IST
  • This week, Malaika Arora showed her followers how to do the Sarvangasana aka the shoulder stand. The fitness enthusiast shares an asana every week to urge her followers to exercise.
Close
Shilpa Shetty Kundra's favourite fitness routine releases pent up stress | Watch(Instagram/simplesoulfulapp)
Shilpa Shetty Kundra's favourite fitness routine releases pent up stress | Watch(Instagram/simplesoulfulapp)

Shilpa Shetty Kundra's favourite fitness routine releases pent up stress | Watch

By Zarafshan Shiraz
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 12:24 PM IST
  • Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s Monday motivation for a healthy lifestyle is all about getting set for the day with a liberated mind free of stress and these are the exercises that make up her fitness routine to rejuvenate | Watch
Close
Here's how changing diets might drive global rise in childhood obesity(Twitter/efad_org)
Here's how changing diets might drive global rise in childhood obesity(Twitter/efad_org)

Here's how changing diets might drive global rise in childhood obesity

ANI
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2021 12:31 PM IST
A new study has found that changing diets, not less physical activity, may best explain childhood obesity crisis
Close
"It's a small study, but it is the first to show the potential of using metabolic markers as predictive clinical indicators of patients at greatest risk -- and lower risk -- for recurring bouts of major depressive symptoms," added Naviaux.(Unsplash)
"It's a small study, but it is the first to show the potential of using metabolic markers as predictive clinical indicators of patients at greatest risk -- and lower risk -- for recurring bouts of major depressive symptoms," added Naviaux.(Unsplash)

Study finds metabolism's possible role in depression

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 06:05 PM IST
Certain metabolites may be predictive indicators for persons at risk for recurrent major depressive disorder, suggests a recent study by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, in collaboration with Dutch scientists.
Close
Immunotherapies are cancer drugs that essentially block the "don't-eat-me" signal coming from cancer and allow the immune-system to kill it.(Unsplash)
Immunotherapies are cancer drugs that essentially block the "don't-eat-me" signal coming from cancer and allow the immune-system to kill it.(Unsplash)

Researchers find how cancer can be killed by body's own immune system

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 05:59 PM IST
A new way to help the body's immune system get past that deception and destroy cancer, has been found by a University of Missouri researcher.
Close
Food insufficiency, the most extreme form of food insecurity, occurs when families do not have enough food to eat.(Unsplash)
Food insufficiency, the most extreme form of food insecurity, occurs when families do not have enough food to eat.(Unsplash)

Study: Covid-19 pandemic induced food inadequacy is connected to depression

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 05:49 PM IST
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that a 25 per cent ascend in food deficiency during the Covid-19 hit pandemic is connected to demolished psychological wellness.
Close
Taapsee Pannu loves her healthy laddoos(Instagram/taapsee)
Taapsee Pannu loves her healthy laddoos(Instagram/taapsee)

Taapsee Pannu's healthy laddoos will give any dessert a run for its money

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2021 04:22 PM IST
  • Taapsee Pannu has been following a diet for the preparation of her film Rashmi Rocket. However, her diet is not as boring as one would imagine. It even includes laddoos. Yes, you can read that again.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP