5 Signs You Have Sensitive Skin & How To Treat Them
November 22, 2021
Not sure if you have sensitive skin? Read on as we uncover on the 5 most common symptoms of sensitive skin and how you can treat them.
Sensitive skin is a phenomenon that is more common than you think. A survey conducted worldwide has shown that almost 70% of women and 60% of men experience varying degrees of sensitive skin. In most cases, these individuals reported that their skin easily reacts adversely to external triggers and found that they constantly need to be more careful with what their skin comes into contact with.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin is not a clinical condition that a doctor can diagnose you with.
The term ‘sensitive skin’ is generally used to describe skin that has a tendency to be more reactive than others, and the cause of reaction differs from person to person. According to Dr Melissa Piliang, M.D., who specializes in dermatopathology that Cleveland Clinic, “[Sensitive skin] means skin that is easily irritated, either by environmental things like sun, wind, cold, or topical products, like lotions or fragrances.”
For instance, your skin may be sensitive due to a weakened skin barrier. The skin barrier is a protective layer of lipids at the top layer of the skin and its primary function is to keep moisture in and damaging external stressors out. A weakened and thin skin barrier is more susceptible to environmental stressors and therefore, is prone to be more sensitive.
Underlying medical conditions can lead to sensitive skin as well. Individuals with eczema, psoriasis, rosacea or contact dermatitis will have to pay close attention to their skin’s condition and be ready to soothe an irritated skin when need be.
Another cause of skin sensitivity is allergies. If you are allergic to pets, chemicals, or certain types of foods, being in close contact with them or consuming the wrong foods can cause skin to act up. Friction from clothing may exacerbate an already irritated skin so avoid wearing clothing that touches the face when encountering an allergic reaction.
5 Symptoms of Sensitive Skin
If you suspect that you have sensitive skin but you are not sure, run your symptoms through this checklist to see if any of them matches.
1. Your Skin Is Reactive
If your skin is prone to dryness, itchiness and stinging sensations when it comes into contact with substances such as a new skincare products, fragrances as well as soaps and detergents, then you likely have sensitive skin. Exposure to harsh weather conditions such as strong winds, sun rays and cold temperatures can also cause your skin to experience discomfort.
2. You Experience Skin Redness
An irritated skin can appear red or flushed when exposed to irritants. Should you develop a rash or bumps on the skin, trace your steps back and find out what may have caused it. If it’s a new skincare product with strong active ingredients, stop using it immediately and switch back to gentle products.
3. Your Skin Is Dry
More often than not, sensitive skin and dryness go hand-in-hand. Your skin type may be naturally dry or your skin could have become dry due to an exposure to cold weather or strong winds. As your skin is not sufficiently hydrated, it could feel rough and cracked. In such instances, harmful stressors such as bacteria may be able penetrate the skin more deeply leading to high skin sensitivity.
4. You Have Acne-Prone Skin
Do you find yourself breaking out with painful red bumps when introducing a new skincare product into your skincare routine? It is possible that you have sensitive skin as your skin tolerance for new ingredients may be low.
5. You Get Sunburnt Easily
If your skin is photosensitive, you may find that you burn easily when out in the sun and your skin may get irritated and start to peel. Be sure to use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with at least an SPF30 protection to minimise sun damage to your skin.
How To Treat Sensitive Skin
The best defence against sensitive skin reactions is to identify and eliminate all causes! Keep a journal of the products you use and the environment you are in on a daily basis to help identify possible triggers. You may also consult a doctor for help as they can test the skin and check for allergies or any underlying medical conditions for a more conclusive result. Depending on your skin condition, doctors may prescribe medications such as Steroid Creams to soothe inflammation and itchiness, or oral Antihistamines to help manage allergic reactions
To help manage sensitive skin reactions at home, use skincare products that are hypoallergenic, meaning products with formulations that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and products that are gentle on the skin can help to calm and soothe an irritated skin. Examine the ingredient list and watch out for common irritants such as sulfates, drying alcohols and parabens and try to keep them out of your skincare routine!
In addition, making lifestyle changes can alleviate the symptoms of sensitive skin as well. For instance, taking shorter showers of less than 10 minutes and avoiding the use of very hot water can prevent triggering a reaction. Take precautions to avoid coming into contact with detergents and harsh chemical cleaners by wearing gloves when using these products.
While there is no definite ‘cure’ for sensitive skin, the condition can be managed and the symptoms can be treated. Each of our skin is unique, and our paths to clear skin may be different, but we’ll get there together!
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