Touch Deprivation in the Time of COVID-19


Touch deprivation (sometimes called skin hunger) happens when we have little or no physical contact with another person. This might seem strange, but physical touch is more important than you think. There have been various research studies and experiments on the subject.

According to the Nordic Cuddling, a company in the UK which specializes in the art and therapy of cuddling, there are seven signs you might be suffering from touch deprivation.

  1. Aggressive behavior
  2. Body image issues
  3. High stress levels
  4. Loneliness
  5. Mental health issues like depression
  6. Sexual dysfunction
  7. Fear of attachment and unsatisfying relationship.

You can read more about these signs here on their website..


Many cultures around the world feature touch in everyday lives in an integral way. But many places, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries are already considered touch-deprived nations. While we self-isolate during this time of COVID-19, it’s important to remember the importance of our sense of touch.

If you live with friends or loved ones

If you are lucky enough to live with friends or loved ones (and you are symptom free), try to touch or hug every day. If that’s not something all parties are comfortable with, try to establish or maintain emotional and intimate relationships. The human connection during this time is important.

If you live alone

Being alone during self-isolation or quarantine is especially difficult. Though physical tough may be out of the question in the name of personal and community safety, there are ways to simulate human touch. If you have animals, pet and cuddle them as often as you can. It’s not human contact, but it’s a good substitute.Taking hot baths or showers are also useful in keeping our sensory “muscles” active. The same goes for wrapping yourself in a soft, warm blanket. Touch as many things with “texture” as you can. Above all else, rememberers to maintain your human connections through conversation. Call or text loved ones — or better yet, utilize any number of video chat services. The next best thing to face-to-face connection can help us feel closer to normal during these abnormal times. And remember, the isolation won’t last forever.

For more reading on touch deprivation and the power of cuddling, check out these links.

A dire case of ‘skin hunger’ hits hard in self-isolation” – Steve Evans, The Canberra Times

Touch Deprivation: COVID-19’s Unexpected Side Effect” – Nathalia Ortiz, NBC6 South Florida

TEDTalk – Cuddling Can Make Us Better Human Beings

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