Paresthesia is a word derived from Greek meaning abnormal feeling and is the abnormal sensation on the skin that has no apparent physical cause.

A bit of a catch-all term for any abnormal neural related sensations. Usually, but not always, painless the sensation may be described as: numbness, burning, prickling, itching, tingling, pins and needles or skin crawl. Often experienced in the extremities, the hands and the feet, or the face or scalp. I have even heard it described as spiders crawling on your face.

The sensation may be temporary, or may change location over time. I, personally, experience slight numbness in the hands and feet almost constantly, and itching of the face and/or scalp in the evening when I retire to bed.

In addition to Multiple Sclerosis, this symptom may present in transverse myelitis, encephalitis or tumour or vascular lesion pressed against the brain.

Paresthesia, Paraesthesia, Dysesthesia

Paresthesia Skin Crawl Weird SensationsDysesthesia is a burning, throbbing, or shock-like pain along a nerve. With dysesthesia, a light touch may become painful.

This has become one of my major MS symptoms causing many a sleepless night. While the paresthesia is present at all times it comes into more focus at night when there are fewer distractions.


Most patients, like myself, will experience these symptoms as a mild annoyance and will require no specific treatment.

Where treatment is required, commonly used medications are tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants such as Gabapentin (Neurontin®), Carbamazepine (Tegretol®) and phenytoin (Dilantin®)

Capsaic acid (Axsain, Zostrix HP) is a product available without a prescription. This cream may be applied three times daily and aids in relieving this type of pain. Made from hot pepper oils, capsaic acid appears to be safe and has few side effects.

I have tried a number of medications over the years and settled on Tamazepam as being the bet of a bad bunch.

However, things move on. I have now been prescribed Gabapenting, to try and minimise the myoclonic jerks I get in my legs. This seems to have quieted the spiders crawling on my scalp.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders
Multiple Sclerosis Encyclopaedia

HealthHype – Causes of Tingling and Numbness

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