Does trying the latest skincare product or making the slightest change in your regimen cause you to break out in rashes and get blotchy, itchy or stinging skin? Do changes in the weather make your skin “angry”? If this sounds familiar, you have sensitive skin! And you are not alone. More than 50% of Americans and 26.7% of mySkin community members identify with having sensitive skin.
What causes sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin isn’t a dermatological condition; it is usually a symptom of a more serious condition like eczema (dry, flaky red patches), rosacea (redness and flushing) psoriasis (thick scales and itchy, dry, painful, red patches) and acne. It can also be a symptom of irritated skin from allergies, medications or environmental triggers that strip the skin of its protective barrier.
A dermatologist can help you identify if you have a more serious condition and prescribe a treatment plan. If your sensitivity is being caused by an irritation, you can identify what is causing it by testing and eliminating ingredients on your own and tracking how your skin reacts. Since skin is unique, everyone’s triggers are different. Some common triggers are: certain ingredients in cosmetics or skin care products, reactions to dermatological procedures (peels, microdermabrasion), harsh household products or chemicals; environmental factors like cold, heat, frequent and significant changes between temperatures, pollution, dryness in the air, indoor heating or air conditioning, lifestyle issues such as stress, poor diet; hormonal imbalances during pregnancy, times of stress and as you get older.
How do I treat my sensitive skin?
For eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, there are medicines you can use to treat flare-ups. However, for everyone with sensitive skin it is easier to prevent irritation than to treat it. Once you identify the cause of your irritation, eliminating the trigger should help eliminate the reaction.
What skin care products should I use/ avoid?
The best advice for those with sensitive skin is to simplify your skin care routine. Strip it down to the basics by using gentle cleansers and moisturizers without harsh detergents or chemicals. Look for products with fewer ingredients. Do not use exfoliators which can disrupt sensitive skin. Skip products containing alcohol, mineral oil, alpha or beta hydroxy acids, and retinoids all of which can cause irritation. Lanolin, used in many moisturizers to soften skin, can also cause allergic reactions; so can common preservatives that extend a product’s shelf life, such as parabens and quaternium-15. Fragrance used to mask the chemical smells in unscented creams can also cause irritation so stick with “fragrance free” products. While products developed for “sensitive skin” may work for most, those with severely sensitive skin might find all natural products to be less irritating.
How do I keep skin calm?
Once you’ve found a regimen that works for your sensitive skin, stick with it. Be cautious introducing new products – try a patch test before using all over your face to see how your skin reacts. Dab the product on the skin of your forearm and leave it for 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, there’s no problem. But if redness, itching, or blistering occur, this product is not for you.
Do you have sensitive skin? Share your favorite skin care products with us in the comments below!
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