Sensitive Skin Solutions

Sensitive skin is a common condition, but it isn't completely defined or understood. It is mainly a subjective condition. This is another way of saying that it can mean different things to different people.

This skin type is no respecter of skin tone, age group or gender. You could say it's an equal opportunity condition.

For example, the eye area is delicate, even in people who would not think they had sensitive skin.

Click here to find out why eye skin care matters.

What are the signs of a delicate skin? If you have this condition, your skin has an exaggerated reaction to skin care products like creams, cosmetics and soaps. You may even react to substances that don't usually irritate other people.

Sensitive skin tends to get worse in dry and cold weather. Because sensitivity is often subjective, there is often no sign of irritation.

This doesn't mean the sensitivity is all in the sufferer's mind. Sensations like itching, tingling, stinging, burning or tightness are way too strong to be ignored.

There are two types of irritation: visible signs of inflammation are known as "objective irritation" while a reaction that doesn't produce visible changes (like itching, burning) is called "subjective" (or sensory) irritation.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to downplay the strength of the sensations you feel when your skin reacts badly to something it's come in contact with. Any kind of skin irritation, visible or not, is a pain. You and I know that.

Now, that we've cleared that up, let's move on. Some people are born with delicate skin. Others experience the symptoms of this condition at different periods in their lives.

Many factors can trigger this skin condition. Some of these factors are climate changes, environmental factors, stress and fatigue, heat, cold, low humidity and allergies.

If your skin is sensitive, it may be prone to blemishes. You may experience cracking, peeling, blotchy patches and rashes. Your skin can also feel tight and stretched.

And now's a good time to talk about stinging. Yes, stinging. And, I don't mean the insect variety.

Stinging is an important feature of sensitive skin for scientists. In fact, the stinging test is often used to identify people who have delicate skin.

The parts of the face that are most likely to sting are the folds of skin between the nose and mouth and the cheeks. These areas are more sensitive because of the concentration of sweat glands, hair follicles and sensory nerves.

So if your skin is sensitive, take care when applying anything to the very delicate (and sting-able) parts of your face, OK? Maybe try out a new product on a small area of your skin and wait to see if there is any reaction before laying it on.

Dry skin can increase sensitivity and trigger itching. But, don't be tempted to scratch because this damages the skin and can lead to infection. Dryness, scratching and irritation are also symptoms of some conditions like eczema, which is also called atopic dermatitis.

So why does sensitive skin look and feel this way? Good question.

For one thing, it lacks lipids, which are the main components of living cells. This is why delicate skin is easily irritated. It also becomes less elastic and has a tendency to age faster than healthy skin.

The skin's outermost layer of cells (or epidermis) acts as a barrier to keep moisture in and unwanted substances out. Skin sensitivity weakens this barrier.

When this happens, the skin's natural defenses become less effective. It then becomes easier for harmful substances in the environment, like pollution and ultraviolet rays, to penetrate the skin. This means that delicate skin can't protect itself very well. So it needs a helping hand.

Here's how you can help.

Avoid chemicals that can cause skin reactions. Many soaps, fragrances and cosmetics contain ingredients that can irritate delicate skin.

Some of these ingredients are benzoyl peroxide, propylene glycol and salicylic acid. Become a label detective and your skin will thank you for it.

If you have sensitive skin, you're better off using skin care products that have a few ingredients. The simpler the better. Plant-based or naturally derived products may work as they are usually mild and non-irritating.

If you're searching for a simple formula that will maintain your sensitive skin without irritating it, contact me.

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