Although there is no definition for sensitive skin, it can be described as a particular skin condition that can cause stinging, burning, redness, or blotchiness when skin care products or household products come in contact with it. A sensitive skin reaction can flare up at any time.
Sensitive skin is a very common problem, affecting up to 40% of the population. Characteristically, people with sensitive skin react negatively (e.g.rashes, redness) to cosmetic topical products, or have an exaggerated reaction (i.e more than what we would expect compared to the normal population) to cosmetic treatments such as laser resurfacing.
There are many things that can cause sensitive skin to flare:
ENVIRONMENT Changes in weather can affect your skin especially when its cold. The cold, harsh weather can cause skin to become dry and dehydrated and become more sensitive. This is why your lips tend to crack first during cold weathers.
DIRT & POLLUTION Smoke, dust, and fumes can leave your skin irritated and clogged. When your face becomes oily throughout the course of the day, the dirt and polluted air become stuck to the skin and clog the pores. Over time, the skin will be irritated and the skin’s natural barrier will be weakened. In the long run, the skin becomes more sensitive and prone to adverse reactions when products are applied.
CLEANSING Excessive cleansing can cause the skin to become irritated and sore. Cleaning the skin excessively may break down the skin’s natural barrier, making it more sensitive to many products.
LIFESTYLE How healthy your life is has a direct correlation to how healthy your skin is. Lack of sleep, working in an air-conditioned office, drinking, and smoking are major contributors that affect your skin health. If you are exposed to the chlorine in swimming pools regularly, it may also cause your skin to weaken and make it sensitive to skin care products.
HORMONES Fluctuation in hormones during certain major life events such as post-pregnancy, menopause, and puberty may lead to sensitive skin and outbreaks. Even significant changes in your life such as a change in your work environment, death in the family, or stress at work or home can lead to a fluctuation of your hormones.
INGREDIENTS IN SKIN CARE PRODUCTS Artificial fragrance, alcohol, and other harsh chemicals are known to irritate skin. Some common skin care ingredients that always cause skin irritation are retinol and glycol acid. These ingredients are often found in anti-aging creams. Read the labels carefully and be more discerning about the products you choose. Always test on a small area like your wrist or behind your ears before you purchase the product.
Once you have consulted a doctor to rule out any serious problems, most sensitive skin issues can be addressed by using topical creams, calming light and facial therapy.
Know Your Problems
- While there is no accepted definition for sensitive skin, you may suffer from it if you react negatively more than the general population to topical creams or skin treatments.
- It is important to be careful with aesthetic treatments if you have sensitive skin.