If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re likely familiar with the common symptoms of the condition, such as muscle weakness, blurred vision, and muscle spasms. However, some MyMSTeam members report symptoms that are less obviously traceable to the condition.
“I’ve often had this weird sensation. I didn’t know how to describe it for the longest time,” shared one member. “One time, I went to wipe my forehead because it felt like I got water on it. My elbow feels like I’ve put my sleeve in water and it’s wet. Same with my foot. Like there’s a drop of water on it.”
Another member had a similar experience. “I get that sensation down my legs sometimes,” they wrote. “I thought I peed my pants! Thank goodness it was not wet pants! :) I’ve read it’s a common MS symptom. Weird!”
What these members experienced may have been related to a fairly common symptom of MS called altered sensations. Sometimes, an altered sensation might be the first symptom of MS that a person experiences, while other times, these sensations can start after their MS diagnosis.
Feeling sensations that aren’t there can be related to the nerve damage that comes with MS when your immune system attacks itself. The disease affects your central nervous system (your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve), forming lesions on the myelin sheath that is supposed to protect your nerve cells. The resulting lesions (also called plaques) disrupt the electrical signals that your brain is trying to send to your muscles and nerves.
This process can lead to common symptoms of MS, like numbness, pain, and paresthesia. Paresthesia, which involves abnormal sensory experiences, affects around 80 percent of people with MS and can include a prickling, tingling, or burning sensation. The wet sensations you feel on different parts of the body can be an example of paresthesia.
It can be puzzling to experience a sensation that doesn’t make sense in the context of your activities. You might worry that there is something wrong with your body’s tissues wherever you’re feeling these sensations. However, when abnormal sensations are MS-related, the problem is typically a result of nerve damage, not tissue damage.
The reason that nerve damage might result in strange feelings, like wetness, is that your brain could be trying unsuccessfully to interpret signals from your muscles. Instead of feeling whatever external stimuli are present, your brain might instead self-reference previous sensations it has felt, such as feeling wet.
Altered sensations can be annoying or frustrating to deal with. “I feel wet between my toes. It’s horrible!” said one MyMSTeam member.
“I have just recently begun to experience this new and weird sensation,” wrote another. “I can be standing on the carpet, and my left foot feels like my sock is soaking. I take that off and it feels like I am standing in a puddle.”
Talk to your neurologist if you suspect you are experiencing altered sensations. Your doctor might suggest adjusting your treatments, although treating chronically altered sensations can be difficult.
In many cases, treatments may be similar to how other forms of nerve pain are treated. Your neurologist may suggest drugs such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica), but medical advice will vary from person to person.
A neurology expert should also take into account your specific lifestyle factors, co-occurring health conditions, any supplements you are taking, and the trade-offs between potential treatments and their side effects before making a recommendation.
If you have felt strange, wet sensations on your skin, you are not alone. One MyMSTeam member wrote to another who had a similar experience: “I had never heard anyone ever talk about it as ‘wet spots.’ I thought it was just me.”
MyMSTeam is the social network for people with multiple sclerosis and their loved ones. On MyMSTeam, more than 193,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with MS. Have you experienced altered sensations? You can start a conversation by posting on MyMSTeam.