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Sensitive Skin: An Overview

Posted By Edge
If you have sensitive skin, then you know how uncomfortable it can be. Itchy, red, and inflamed patches on your face and body really sour your day. Taking measures beforehand to prevent issues is the best way to handle it but before that, let’s discuss what really is sensitive skin.

Sensitive skin is hyper-reactive skin.
Sensitive skin is generally defined as any skin type that is easily irritated. But what does that mean for you? It means that even the smallest things can cause your skin to flare up: an aggressive cleanser, a new moisturizer, or even just the pressure of your clothing.

Your skin reacts quickly and strongly to external or internal factors like the sun, cosmetics, or stress. When your skin is sensitive, it doesn’t take much to set off an allergic reaction or irritation. And because the causes of sensitivity are so varied, there isn’t a straightforward solution—but there are some steps you can take to help yourself out.

If you have sensitive skin, you know that it can be a real pain. It may be more prone to dryness and irritation, and often causes redness, itching, and tightness.

Some other symptoms of sensitive skin include:

  • Skin redness that presents with or without swelling
  • Skin that stings or burns—if you've ever gotten a sunburn on your face know what this feels like! 
  • Rashes or hives
  • Dry skin that may crack, blister (for example from rosacea), and bleeds
  • Patches of rough-feeling dry skin

Sensitive skin is caused by a combination of external and internal factors.
There are several factors that can play a role in the development of sensitive skin. External factors include environmental pollution, stress, and poor diet. Internal factors can be genetic or related to hormone levels, such as during puberty or pregnancy. Some people develop sensitive skin because they have certain skin conditions like acne. Other internal causes may include medications you're taking or poor circulation due to aging or illness.

The good news is that there are ways you can minimize your skin’s sensitivity and the first step is identifying the causes of your skin sensitivity.

Do you have a family history of acne, rosacea, or eczema? Then it's likely that your sensitivity is caused by genetics, which means there's nothing you can do about it beyond avoiding triggers as much as possible.
Do you live in an extremely dry climate? Then it's possible that your sensitivity stems from environmental stressors—in which case reducing these stressors may help relieve your symptoms.
Do you suffer from low blood pressure? Then it's possible that high-sodium foods are triggering your symptoms—and reducing your intake of salty foods should help ease them.

Also, certain medications (like antibiotics) tend to make the skin more sensitive. So does a reaction to an allergen such as dust mites or pet dander. These reactions can cause dryness and irritation in people with normal or oily skin types alike; however, the reaction tends to be worse in those with dry or sensitive complexions since they are already prone to having issues with their complexion anyway.

Once you've determined what causes your skin sensitivity and its severity ( mild, moderate, or severe ), then take steps to avoid those triggers as much as possible.

If you're doing everything right but still struggling with symptoms like redness or flaking, then consider using products without potential irritants.

Here are some common culprits to watch out for in your skincare products:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol breaks down the natural moisture barrier of your skin. When it does this, it causes irritation, redness, and dryness.
  • Fragrances: Fragrances can cause allergic reactions in some people and may even be toxic to the body. They should be avoided at all costs!
  • Sulfates: Sulfates are found in many cleansers and they're known to be harsh on the skin. They can also strip away your natural oils and cause irritation and inflammation.
  • Parabens: Parabens are a type of preservative that is commonly used in skincare products because they help keep bacteria out of the product (which is obviously important). Unfortunately, parabens have been shown to disrupt hormones in rats (and probably humans too), which could lead to health issues like cancer or thyroid problems.

Sensitive skin is a real thing.

For those with sensitive skin, the challenge of maintaining the skin can be trying. Itchy patches, redness, inflammation—it can be tough to manage your daily routine when your skin is giving you so much grief. But when should you see a doctor?

The best advice we can give is this: if your skin is giving you trouble and it's not improving over time, see a dermatologist ASAP. If you've been using products dedicated to sensitive skin but they haven't worked out, or if you're still struggling with redness or irritation even after trying multiple treatments, it's time to get some professional help. Your dermatologist can evaluate what's going on underneath the surface of your skin and help you figure out what treatment will work best for your case of sensitive skin.


At the end of the day, it’s best to arm yourself with all the knowledge you can so that you may better understand and address your sensitive skin. By avoiding the things that bother your skin and addressing problems when they arise, it could give you a starting point to get out of this frustrating skin cycle and live a more comfortable life.


Source: Dr Dray | Dermatologist Answer Your Sensitive Skin Questions

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