Does Chronic Nerve Pain Cause Skin Changes?

Many disorders affect both the nervous system and the skin. If you are experiencing chronic nerve pain and noticed changes on your skin, fret not because those are common side effects. Changes in the skin’s appearance are common in people who have peripheral nerve injury or damage to nerves that are outside the spinal cord and the brain. 

Peripheral neuropathy or polyneuropathy, affects several nerves in different parts of the body at the same time. In particular, these are the nerves that are responsible for feeling (sensory neuropathy), movement (motor neuropathy) or both (sensorimotor neuropathy). It may also affect the autonomic nerves responsible for controlling several functions such as digestion, the bladder, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Why nerve pain changes the skin

Changes in the skin’s appearance are common among people who have peripheral neuropathy. This is because these same neves supply the organs, muscles, and skin. If these get damaged, they may no longer supply the skin adequately, which can cause it to change color or texture. This can also alter how certain sensations are felt such as light, touch, and temperature. 

Other Chronic Conditions

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

This chronic pain condition, also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) causes swelling, redness, and pain that are often felt in the hands and feet. It is also considered a neuropathic pain disorder, which means that it is caused by damage, irritation, or even destruction of nerves. People with this condition often experience skin texture changes, along with other symptoms such as swelling, joint stiffness, burning or stabbing pain, and hypersensitivity. In some cases, the skin can become pale, red, purple, spotty and can even look thin and shiny.

Diabetic Neuropathy

This chronic nerve pain condition causes skin changes. These skin changes usually occur among people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which can cause numbness or pain in the toes, feet, and legs, as well as the hands and arms. This often leads to infections and other skin problems, and a person with this condition often gets a wound without knowing it. 

Protecting the Skin


Fortunately, there are certain steps that one can take to protect the skin even if you experience chronic nerve pain. For people with diabetes, managing it is the best way to avoid diabetic neuropathy. In general, the following should help:

  • Clean your feet with mild soap and apply moisturizer after washing to prevent it from drying and cracking
  • Wear protective footwear and clean socks. 
  • Wear hypoallergenic socks, especially those that are made from 100% organic cotton, as these socks do not contain chemicals that could further irritate your skin
  • Avoid going barefoot
  • If you have CRPS, exercising and moving the affected limb can prevent swelling and joint stiffness 
  • To help prevent skin texture and color issues, consult your doctor for prescription medications