According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sensitive skin affects millions of people. But what exactly is sensitive skin, and how can you make it better?
Here’s more on the subject, along with eight ways to cope.
What is Sensitive Skin?
Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., and director of the University of Miami’s Cosmetic Medicine & Research Institute, states there are four types of sensitive skin:
- Burning and stinging
- Contact dermatitis (allergies and irritants, also including eczema)
That means if you suffer from any of these conditions on a regular basis, you can qualify yourself and having sensitive skin. Though each of these creates different symptoms, they all have one thing in common—inflammation.
In 2011, a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology reported on the prevalence of sensitive skin in America. Researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 subjects who answered questions about their skin. Results showed:
- Nearly 45 percent stated they had sensitive or very sensitive skin.
- Subjects with sensitive skin had mainly dry or mixed skin, dermatological disorders, or were prone to skin reactions to cosmetics and various environmental factors.
- The researchers concluded that there was a high prevalence of sensitive skin in the U.S.
How to Tell if You Have Sensitive Skin
In addition to the above conditions, there are other symptoms of sensitive skin. Ask yourself if you experience one or more of the following on a regular basis:
- Burning, tingling, or tightening, particularly after using skin care or makeup products.
- Redness and rashes after exposure to cosmetic or household products.
- Redness, rashes, acne, and other reactions after shaving.
- Burning, dryness, or redness after exposure to cold and windy weather.
- Acne and other skin problems in reaction to stress.
- Regular skin irritation, dryness, flaking, and redness for unknown reasons.
- Skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Experiencing these types of symptoms may indicate that you have sensitive skin. Read on for tips on how to make your skin feel better.
How to Cope
Whether your skin is dry, prone to irritation, inflamed, or suffering from skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, or dermatitis, there are some basic steps you can take to improve your skin’s comfort and appearance.
- Avoid hot water. It strips the skin of its natural oils, promoting dryness. Use lukewarm water most all the time.
- Don’t soak. If you stand under the shower for long periods of time, again, you’re stripping your skin of its natural moisture. Wash your face last, and apply toner and moisturizer immediately after getting out.
- Avoid soap. Most soaps are drying. Use soap-free cleansers that have nourishing ingredients.
- Protect. Sun damage is the number-one cause of skin aging. It can also exacerbate inflammation and redness. Protect with hats, sunglasses, and a safe sunscreen like zinc oxide. During harsh weather, protect your skin with scarves and gloves.
- Use care. Sensitive skin needs more tender care. Avoid harsh scrubs, brushes, and loofahs and clean and treat gently, using only non-irritating products.
- Watch out for chemicals. Read the labels on your skin care and other personal care products, avoiding harsh chemicals, and also pay attention to your laundry products. Many can irritate skin because of harsh surfactants.
- Avoid fragrances. Most are irritating to skin, and many have been linked with causing or exacerbating dermatitis and allergic skin reactions.
- Reduce products. Look at how many products you’re putting on your skin each day. If it’s more than four, consider cutting back. Can you go without makeup on some days? Maybe avoid that bronzer or primer? Simplify to help your skin recover.
Do you have natural solutions for sensitive skin? Please share them with our readers.