What is sensitive skin? How do you know, identify or test for skin sensitivity? What are the best care tips and makeup? Get answers to all this, including characteristics, care products, causes, and tips.
To begin, sensitive skins are a problem of both men and women and each should be concerned.
What is a sensitive skin?
It is common to hear people saying they have a sensitive skin whenever they use household or cosmetic products that cause redness, stinging, burning, blotchiness, irritation, dryness, rashes, breakouts, tightness or they feel uncomfortable.
The above is partly true and represents some truth. However, dermatologists diagnose sensitivity by looking at:
- Any reactions such as bumps, erosions, pustules, blotches, redness, rashes, etc.
- A very dry skin that cannot protect your nerve endings well
- High flushing and blushing tendencies
According to Dr. Glenn Kolanskys who is board certified dermatologist in Red Bank, NJ he considers it as a type “react to common household products or cosmetics or temperature changes.” Generally, when you have it, you will tend to react to most of the skin care products that people with other skin types such as normal and oily can tolerate.
In terms of areas that get affected, sensitivity can be noticed on various parts of the body including legs, arms, face, hands etc and not just the face as many people consider it.
Indeed, the American Academy of Dermatology acknowledges that about half of the people have some sort of sensitivity. However, there are people who think they might be having a sensitive skin when it is only certain ingredients present in products they are using that causes this sensitivity.
Finally, conditions that relate to sensitive skins can be inherited but the reaction to body care cosmetics, household products or skincare products is not inherited.
Characteristics or signs
Most people overuse skincare products such as moisturizers, cleansers, toners, body, face washes, etc., and claim they have sensitive skin when they do not. This makes the term to be overused. To ascertain if you have it or not, some of the common characteristics of this skin type include:
- Thin epidermis, fine texture and pore that makes the skin vulnerable to external assaults
- Premature wrinkling (developing premature wrinkles)
- Feeling tightness after you have cleaned it
- It is vulnerable to burns, flaky patches, acne, rosacea, contact allergens and eczema
- Breakage of capillaries close to the surface
- Reacts to weather conditions such as cold or hot weather conditions
- Itchy, blushes, hives, bumps developing when you use certain product(s)
Although not everyone recognizes them, according to Dr. Baumann (MD, FAAD, director of the University of Miami’s Cosmetic Medicine & Research Institute and professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine), there are four types of sensitive skins i.e. acne sensitivity, rosacea, burning and stinging as well as contact dermatitis or irritants and allergies.
Each of these types needs its own special care with no specific product can help dealing with all these types.
You have a hint on what a sensitive skin is. It is good to know some of the causes of since this can help in pointing out the cause of your sensitivity.
- Allergic reactions and disorders that include rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, or allergic contact dermatitis
- Injured or damaged skin that cannot protect nerve endings (normally causes reactions)
- Exposure to harsh environmental conditions such as sun, heat, cold, etc which often cause redness, tightness, heat rashes, dryness, etc.
- In some extreme cases, people might be affected by the various skincare products they use including scented products (with fragrance), aftershaves, shaving razors, etc. that might make it blotchy and/or develop rashes.
- Hormonal fluctuations especially during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
- Skincare products such as excessive use of anti-aging products, some harsh skin care products such as moisturizers, cleansers, products with fragrances, preservatives these products have, parabens such as Quaternium-15, Phenoxyethanol, DMDM hydantoin, formaldehyde, and methylchloroisothiazolinone.
- Aging is another cause. As people age, their skin humidity reduces. Such a problem requires getting good moisturizers that you won’t react to.
- Excessive dryness can cause sensitivity.
- Eating diet that has allergic reaction triggers as well as lifestyles such as smoking and too much drinking
- Too much stress can worsen sensitivity
- Finally, it could be because of genetics, especially when it is associated with a certain condition such as eczema, acne, etc.
Other than, these causes other factors such as age, race, might have a role or cause sensitivity.
Testing for Sensitivity
Since many things cause a sensitive skin as we have already seen, it is a good to ensure you have visited dermatologists for a patch test to determine things that cause reactions. It is not easy entirely to determine since many things cause it.
Alternatively, you can apply medium pressure using your fingers across your face side and if it turns red, you might be having it. However, if you have a very dark skin tone, you might not notice the redness.
How to tell you have sensitive skin at home
Sensitive skin is one of the wrongly and overused words where everyone just assumes it is because it reacted to a certain product in a certain way. Some of these products are actually harsh and it will not be true to assume just because it reacted to certain products.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi who is a co-director at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, “people may be overusing their products, leading to irritation.” Such a scenario does not mean you have a sensitive skin.
Some of the things that can help you know if you have it while you are at home include the following:
- When most of the normal products you use cause stinging or redness especially products such as moisturizers, body butter, shower gels, soaps, bubble bath, face washes or masks, shampoos among others.
- If it develops redness, tightness, dryness, heat rashes etc when you are exposed to harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat, wind or coldness.
- When your turns blotchy, develops rashes or burns when you use an aftershave after you have removed your facial hairs. You will also feel itchy or develop rashes immediately after shaving.
- Some skins as already seen are too sensitive that they even react to fragrances. Therefore, if this happens that you feel it irritated, you might be having it.
These are some of the ways to identify sensitivity other than the medical test or patch test. It is important you be certain you have a skin type that is sensitive before you choose a good regimen to care for it.
General care tips and makeup use
Before deciding on the goods care routine and regimen, you have to confirm if it is or not sensitive. Furthermore, while discussing care tips and makeup, we will not go to details since we have separate articles that cover those areas.
We are going to mention general ways you can care for it if it is very sensitive. So what are some of the care tips and makeup use tips?
Identify the cause of irritation or sensitivity – The first tip is identifying things that cause your skin to react or any form of irritations. Look at things such as moisturizers, face masks, shampoos, body washes, conditioners, etc. and avoid using them. For instance, if f cologne causes it reaction, avoid spraying perfume or colognes on it. Instead, spray them on your clothes as they might irritate it if they came directly in contact.
Check you softeners – If you develop rashes on your whole body, consider the softeners and detergents you use while washing them. They could be causing this reaction.
Mild soaps and body washes – Going on with care tips ensure you go for oil-free body washes and mild emollients or soaps. Generally, soap-free cleaners with low pH are less irritating. Furthermore, avoid products with deodorants, alcohol or antibacterial properties. In fact, go for hydrating and superfatted cleansers as they do help. See more on best shampoos, soaps, body wash, toners and shower gels suitable for it.
Good Sunscreen or SPF – To protect it from direct sunlight, which might irritate it, it is wise to ensure that you use a good SPF or sunscreen for sensitive skin type.
Allergic Test reaction /Test New Products – In case you want to try a new product, ensure you run a test especially on your inner arm to see if you are sensitive or behind your ear. This test should be done for five days, each time letting it sleep overnight.
If you do not see any irritation, you can apply along one are of your eye just as you did for the ear for the same time and if no irritation will be noted, the product will safe to use.
Avoid Over cleansing it – Over cleansing your skin strips away the important protective layer that will reduce its sensitivity. Ensure you mildly cleanse it if it is sensitive. Reduce use of products with hydroxy acids, alcohol-based or granulated scrubs. Instead, go for products that have blueberry.
Too cold or hot water – Avoid using too hot or cold water as this often triggers sensitivity.
Skincare products you use – we have already mentioned a few products you should use and you will find more in other articles. To emphasize, also confirm if the specific product you want to use is safe..
Clothing for a sensitive skin – if you are looking for best fabric for sensitive skin to wear, the natural and soft fabrics such as silk and cotton will be very comfortable though silk is warmer while cotton is cold. You will also be very comfortable if you wear linen and rayon. If you are wearing cotton, it should not be creased.
Good diet and drinking water – another important care tip is diet. Ensure you drink at least eight glasses of water daily and you eat a healthy diet. This will ensure you have a healthy skin that is less sensitive. Did you know there are foods that cause acne and those, which can help, cure or prevent? Diet cannot be underscored.
We have looked at care tips. It is important that you do not go only the much-assumed hypoallergenic products but check to see which ingredients are present since they are not regulated by the US FDA in the similar way prescribed medications are regulated.
Should You Consult a Doctor or Dermatologists?
If you have mild skin irritation, you need properly to care for it with the correct care products. However, if its condition does not improve, you need to see a dermatologist who will help identify irritants, come up with milder products to use (household products too) after condition medical test for skin sensitivity.