Desensitization (1031)

Key points below

What is desensitization and why is it used?

Desensitization is used to help with nerve pain. Nerve pain can happen for different medical reasons. Desensitization teaches the nerves and brain how to handle normal sensory information. This helps to decrease pain and sensitivity. It can also help to increase comfort and the ability to do daily activities.

How is desensitization done?

Sensitive areas are touched using different pressures, textures, and temperatures. This will help the nerves to get used to different feelings. It also helps calm the nerves so they can feel better. When a certain sensation feels ok, it is time to try a new texture or use more pressure.

Remember, protecting sensitive areas makes it worse. It is important for your child to try to move the sensitive area.

Your child’s therapist will teach you exercises that can be done. Begin with a few seconds at a time. Slowly increase the time, working up to 15 minutes. Do them 2 to 3 times a day.



While using the massage techniques above, try different kinds of touch by using textures.

 Feather Cotton ball  Silk  Velvet  Corduroy Terry cloth  Wool  Towel Velcro 
Very soft                                                                   Soft                                                  Coarse                                                                  More coarse

Texture Bins - Do not do this if there are open areas on the skin.

1. Fill an empty bowl, storage bin, or plastic dish tub with any of these items:

2. Move the sensitive body part through the bin or dig into the bin with fingers or toes. Add in small toys or objects to search for to make it fun.

Contrast Baths

  1. Use two large bowls, storage bins, or plastic dish tubs.
  2. Fill one with cool water and a few ice cubes. Fill the other with warm water. The water should not be too hot. If it is too hot to touch for more than a few seconds, add some cold water or wait a few seconds.
  3. Put the affected body part in one bin for 2 to 3 minutes. Then switch to the other bin for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

Always end with the warm water bin.

ALERT: Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.

For other health and wellness information, check out this resource: