In the world of beauty and skincare, ‘Sensitive Skin’ is an ever-present problem; renowned for its ability to occur at any time for a plethora of reasons. Dermatologists, Skin Therapists, and Aestheticians are more familiar with this problem than anyone else, as most of their patients and clients admit to having this issue frequently. The biggest indicator of skin sensitivity is how it reacts to certain stimuli.
Skin reactions are a regular occurrence. Given the overabundance of beauty and skin products available, it is expected that there’ll be various reactions to these products based on skin type.
If your skin reacts to topical products like lotions, soaps or perfumes, or environmental factors easily, chances are you have sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin isn’t a clinical condition, it just means your skin is very reactive and gets irritated easily. Most times, this irritation will show up in form of rashes, dryness, itching, or redness. If you notice that your skin is reacting more than average, you should have an expert take a look at it to give you an accurate diagnosis.
You may be reacting to everything for any of the following reasons.
1. Weak Outer Skin Layer
The protective outer layer of the skin is known as the lipid (fat) barrier. We all have this protective outer layer on our skin and its key function is to seal in water and keep out potentially damaging things like UV rays, wind, heat, and harsh chemicals. In people with sensitive skin, the lipid barrier is normally weaker and more easily damaged, which makes it easier for irritants to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation. This occurs because weak lipid barriers are thinner and skin types with these thin barriers absorb products more deeply, which makes them more reactive to skincare materials. Having a thin lipid barrier also means it is less difficult for moisture to be retained. This is why sensitive skin is often dry.
Sensitivity is possible around specific areas where the protective outer layer is thinner, like around the eyes.
2. Immune Protection
Oftentimes, after an irritant has gotten through the lipid barrier into the system, there is an inflammatory response from the immune system. This means that sensitivity in the skin can be a result of your immune system being hyperactive. This hyper activeness is what happens when your immune system goes into defense mode against a perceived threat. Symptoms and conditions that may occur as a result of this action include redness, scaling, psoriasis, and eczema.
Hygiene is important and highly recommended for everyone. However, too much washing of the skin may have an adverse effect, contrary to your initial intention. This is because over-washing and excessive exfoliating can diminish your lipid barrier, especially if you always wash with hot water. The combination of hot water, harsh soaps, and exfoliators at a high frequency will speedily weaken the lipid layer. To prevent this from happening, use cold or lukewarm water and only wash more than once a day when necessary.
4. Skin Allergies
It is possible to develop a skin allergy to a given product if your skin is recurrently exposed to an irritant contained in said product. This irritant can either be an ingredient or any substance included in your skincare routine. According to research, skin irritants are more commonly found in fragrances. With allergies like this, it will take continued exposure in small doses over a long time for it to develop, but once you have it, it is permanent.
Since skin sensitivity increases with age, it is important to pay attention early and discover the products that your skin is compatible with earlier. This is so that you do not have to battle sensitivity from aging and a skin allergy at the same time.
Signs of a skin allergy include dry, cracked skin, tenderness, extreme itchiness, and a red rash.
5. Contact Dermatitis
When your skin reacts after direct contact with a given substance, it is called contact dermatitis. Usually, when this occurs, the skin becomes red, itchy, and swollen. Simply avoiding the causative component will allow the reaction to clear in a few weeks.
In many cases, staying away from harsh substances in skin care products can help ease the symptoms and eventually take them away. You can also apply homemade remedies to reduce the reactions your skin has to any product.
However, if symptoms begin to worsen, it is recommended that you see a doctor or dermatologist for testing. This way, you can be sure about what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, and how to go about fixing it.