Does your skin turn red or feel irritated when it comes in contact with certain cosmetics or other foreign particles? This is because you likely have sensitive skin. The good news is that it is not a serious condition and can be managed with the right care. Scroll down to find out how.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
Your skin is made up of a protective layer that locks in moisture and prevents environmental aggressors from penetrating through it. When this layer gets damaged (due to a number of factors), your skin becomes hyper-reactive to most things in the environment, making it dry, itchy and irritated. Certain skin disorders can also result in sensitive skin.
How To Identify Sensitive Skin?
- Itchy, tight skin
- Reaction to skincare products
- Extreme dryness in winters
- Turns red after hot water showers
- Flushes with spicy food
Sensitive Skin Causes & Treatments
External factors that can cause damage to your skin’s barrier include the usage of harsh skin care products, weather change, untreated dry skin and cold climates. Genes can also contribute to sensitive skin. (1)
However, there are some skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis among others that can cause sensitivity. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they can be treated:
1. Dry Skin
When your skin lacks essential oils and water, it can get dry and flaky. A broken skin barrier is the main culprit of dry skin, which can be caused by genes, climate changes and the products you use on your skin.
Use A Barrier-Repair Moisturizer
These penetrate through your skin and repair its protective layer to improve dry skin symptoms. Cream-based moisturizers are recommended for sensitive skin.
Use A Mild Cleanser
Your skin’s pH is weakly acidic, ranging between 4.7-5.7. Many off-the-shelf products have an alkaline base to produce foam, which actually disrupts your skin’s natural pH. So opt for a mild, fragrance-free and very lightly foaming cleanser.
Eczema is a condition in which your skin fails to protect you from irritants, causing rashes, dryness, flaky and inflamed skin often filled with pus. A number of environmental factors contribute to flare-ups. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, although studies suggest that genes may have a role to play. (2)
Topical And Oral Medication
This process includes wrapping a wet fabric around the affected area. It is ideal for you to do it after bathing and moisturizing your skin. Research suggests that wet-wrap therapy can help improve hydration (5).
3. Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when your skin develops a rash after touching something. This happens because of a broken or completely damaged skin barrier. Contact dermatitis can cause chronic changes in your skin, if you scratch the affected area excessively. (6)
More often than not, contact dermatitis disappears on its own. If it persists, your doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids or numbing creams to relieve your skin of irritation.
Rosacea causes your face to flush easily, along with redness, tiny pimples, bumps and visible blood vessels. There are four types of rosacea - vascular rosacea, inflammatory rosacea, phymatous rosacea and ocular rosacea. (7)
Certain topical and oral medications like doxycycline, azelaic acid and isotretinoin can help relieve you of symptoms like redness and itchiness.
5. Contact and Physical Urticaria
Contact urticaria, also known as hives, occurs when your skin comes into contact with an irritating substance. Physical urticaria is caused when your skin is exposed to extreme temperatures, chemicals or other substances in the environment. Common symptoms include tiny bumps, irritation, itchiness, rashes, redness and swelling.
Your doctor may prescribe topical or oral antihistamine to help relieve you of these symptoms.
5 Tips For People With Sensitive Skin
- Use a mild cleanser, fragrance-free, foam-free moisturizing cleanser.
- Buy a barrier-repair, cream-based moisturizer.
- Avoid taking showers for too long.
- Make sure you wear sunscreen at all times during the day.
- Eat foods rich in water like watermelon, oranges, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and coconut water.
What You Should Avoid?
Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that are essential for good skin and body health. However, they have a tendency to cause skin irritation. Stay away from products that contain retinoids if you have sensitive skin.
2. Hydroxy Acids
Alpha-hydroxy acids are usually marked to be safe for all skin types. However, if you have sensitive skin, conduct a patch-test before using a product containing AHAs. Beta-hydroxy acids on the other hand, are drying agents. They are used to treat acne and tend to dry up essential oils in your skin. Avoid using products with BHAs.
3. Alcohol-Based Products
Alcohol-based products usually come in the form of makeup removers. Avoid using them as they can dry up your skin and cause it to burn.
Are Women More Prone To Sensitive Skin?
Are Allergic Reactions The Same As Sensitive Skin?
Your body may be allergic to certain ingredients or food items. For example, you may have noticed people talking about being allergic to seeds, dust or milk. Allergic reactions to a particular substance or food item doesn’t mean you have sensitive skin.
When your skin is sensitive, it tends to react to almost every product it comes in contact with. Growing evidence suggests that a healthy diet can treat skin sensitivity.
When Should You Visit A Doctor?
Although uncommon, some reactions can be life-threatening. See a doctor immediately if you experience any of these:
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Swelling of mouth, face or throat.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
Sensitive skin should be cared for in order to avoid further complications and skin irritation. If you have sensitive skin, keep in mind to always conduct a patch test before applying any product to your face.
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