Not dealing with sensitive skin? Check out the other entries in our Beauty Hacks series to find the tips that perfectly fit your complexion.
Sensitive skin means something different to everyone. But no matter how your skin is acting out, you deserve something better. With sensitive skin, you have a bit of a puzzle on your hands. You need to identify exactly what’s causing the redness, irritation, itchiness, or other issues you’re experiencing. Then you can move forward with appropriate care. If you have skin reactions like blushing/flushing, pustules, skin bumps, erosion, or extreme dryness, your skin can be classified as sensitive. It’s a wide umbrella, but investigating your own skin will help you narrow down effective treatments.
Ready to become a skin care detective? The steps below will help you identify why your skin is misbehaving. As always, it helps to have an expert on your side – just get in touch for assistance diagnosing your dermal dilemmas.
Why Is My Skin So Sensitive?
Some of the most common causes of irritated skin include:
- Existing skin disorders or allergic reactions, like eczema, rosacea, or contact dermatitis. These will be more noticeable as causes because they typically appear in a sudden or concentrated way. See a dermatologist for help treating these concerns.
- Overly dry or damaged skin. Weathered, injured skin can’t protect nerve endings, which makes it susceptible to uncomfortable reactions.
- Routine exposure to damaging environments like extended sun, wind, heat, or cold.
- Strong soaps, lotions, laundry detergent, or other substances that contain fragrances, dyes, alcohol, antibacterial agents, deodorants, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acids. While these might not be a problem for some, if your skin is sensitive, it won’t feel good after exposure to these products.
- Genetic factors and age can also play a role, but these are more difficult to define.
There are some medical tests that can help diagnose the underlying cause of sensitivity. But these mainly consist of patch testing for allergies. If you don’t have a concrete allergy, it’s tough to test for sensitivity because it can stem from so many factors.
Do any of the causes listed above sound familiar? Meet with a skin care professional to hone in on your suspected sensitivity culprit.
How to Treat Sensitive Skin
Care is different from person to person, but the steps below could be helpful. When you start using any new product, test it out on a small patch of skin before using it across your face, hands, arms, or anywhere else. First, apply it to a small area behind your ear and wait a day. If your skin seems fine, apply it below an eye. If it’s still fine after another day, it should be safe to use anywhere, as the skin around the eyes is particularly sensitive.
Don’t trust “hypoallergenic” products right away – this label doesn’t actually mean much. There aren’t any federal standards applied to this term, so companies can use it however they wish.
- Cleanse carefully – Make sure you’re not using a harsh or fragrant soap. Try a soap-free cleanser to lower the potential for irritation. Look for products that mention sensitive skin and are deodorant-free.
- Moisturize – Moisturizing products help lock in hydration to avoid dry skin and irritation. Look for moisturizers with little to no fragrance. If it’s mid-summer or mid-winter, you might need to up your moisturizing to make sure you’re getting enough protection from harsher elements.
- Eat healthy – Eating right is beneficial for your skin (and your entire body).
- Know your skin care history – Not just your own, but your family’s. Many skin disorders are inherited, and talking with your parents and siblings can give you clues as to what’s going on with your own skin.
- Use the right makeup – Many cosmetics will cause irritation for sensitive skin. Don’t use waterproof cosmetics to avoid harsh cleansers. Avoid liquid eyeliners, which may contain latex. Use a silicone-based foundation. And throw out old or expired makeup on schedule.
- Avoid tanning – The sun’s rays will damage your skin, and cause additional issues for those with sensitive skin. Wear sunscreen year-round and cover up when out in the sun.
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