Understanding Skin Hunger And The Importance Of Touch

Sometimes, all we need is a hug from the right person. We don’t need science to prove that, it feels good to receive a cuddle.

Doctors often emphasize on an uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between the mother and a newborn. There are a number medical explanations to why it is beneficial for both of them.

Babies seek for mother’s touch and cry until they are being held. Touch is the way through which they communicate—it comforts them and provides them a sense of warmth and security. However, we forget that this contact is crucial not just for that moment or weeks after the birth, even an adult feels the need to be in touch with a close one—it is identified as skin hunger.

What Is Skin Hunger?

Skin hunger can be explained as a desire for physical contact. It could be the wish to connect with another person through words or simply long for a hug. Though we may not have heard of the term before, we may have experienced such a feeling when we want someone to truly support or console us with a pat on the back, touch of a hand or a tight cuddle.

Though we are used to cuddling, kissing, tickling our adorable little babies, we tend to do that less often as the kids grow older. This happens naturally, sometimes, even intentionally when parents think that their kid would be too emotionally dependent on them.

However, touch shouldn’t be restricted to the growing years of your baby, while you still breastfeeding them. Skin contact is vital for your kids physical, cognitive and social development.

Why Is Touch So Important?

A scientific experiment though controversial was conducted soon after World War II by Harry Harlow, who was an American psychologist. prove that touch is crucial over anything else. In the experiment which involved baby macaques monkeys, who were separated from their mothers after birth. They were then made to choose between two surrogate mothers, who were not real—one was made out of wires and wood, the other was made from cloth.

The infant monkeys were found to give more attention to the inanimate mother covered in cloth. Despite the effigy made out of wire and wood holding a bottle of milk, the baby monkeys still preferred the former. Harlow finally concluded that the baby macaques sought for something more than just nourishment, which he called contact comfort.

This study later helped the scientists understand the importance of touch and contact, especially for children.

Skin hunger in adults is often linked to satisfying their sexual needs. To put it in a better way, skin hunger can be explained as having a physical contact with a person that is meaningful and a true communication of emotions.

About 40% of people in America feel they are lonely. Even though they have people around them, they can’t talk to a single person about their personal or any important issue.

Today’s world has given us immense power through technology to connect to a person living on a different continent. Sadly, we still remain isolated at a personal level. Dr. Tiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute said that it is common for people to not realize about their skin hunger and feel that they are mentally sick or suffering from depression.

Physical touch is healing. It has shown to reduce the stress by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Touch triggers the release of hormone oxytocin which helps in bonding. It benefits the mental health and even has physical benefits like boosting the immune and cardiovascular system.

A study found that teens in France are more affectionate towards their peers as compared to American adolescents who are comparatively more aggressive verbally as well as physically.1

Encourage and retain the amount of closeness you have with your kids. Spend more time together, watching a movie snuggled together or go for long walks.

As we are proceeding in this fast-paced life, we are getting busier and withholding our affection towards each other. Sometimes, a ranting kid might be longing for your attention while a teenager who is disconnected from the world might feel better with a hug and some talks.