The phrase 'sensitive skin' is quite commonly used everywhere, by doctors, on skincare labels, or even in casual conversations among people. So, how do you know that you have sensitive skin? And if you do, what measures do you take to overcome this? Keep reading to learn everything about knowing if you have sensitive skin – signs, causes, and treatments.
What is Sensitive Skin, and Is This a Cause for Concern?
Sensitive skin is a common issue faced by millions of people. However, there is no standard definition. However, it is not a disease but a symptom of another condition that is generally prone to inflammation or reactions.
The good thing is that the conditions that cause sensitive skin are rarely serious. All you need to do is modify your skincare routine a bit to keep those symptoms at bay.
Are There Different Types of Skin Sensitivity?
Yes, just like there are varying severity levels for dryness and acne, there are different levels of sensitive skin. For instance, some may be affected by a single factor like hot water leading to skin irritation. In contrast, others may be affected by both environmental factors as well as harsh skincare products.
Generally, sensitive skin is divided into four types:
- Natural: People having naturally sensitive skin is primarily genetic and can be linked to inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
- Environmental: As the name says, your skin sensitivity will trigger when it's exposed to the environment. This can be anything from sun exposure, air pollution, or even cigarette smoke.
- Reactive: This is a type of sensitivity that occurs while using certain skincare products. It may result in redness and irritation.
- Thin: The thinner the skin, the easier it is to experience irritation. As we age, our skin becomes thinner, making it more susceptible to sensitivity.
How to Know If You Have Sensitive Skin
The best way to know if you have sensitive skin or not is by visiting a dermatologist. A dermatologist can check your skin type, determine the cause of your skin reaction and further assist you with a treatment plan. However, there are some common symptoms or signs that can trigger sensitive skin. Watch out for these signs and reach out to your dermatologist if you're facing any of them:
1. Your Skin is Reactive
Have you noticed yourself having a sensitive skin reaction to certain products? It can be anything – soap, perfumes, essential oils, detergents, fragrances, other skincare, or household products.
Apart from these products, extreme weather conditions like wind, sun, and cold may even trigger reactions. If you're facing this, it's a sign that you have sensitive skin. It's best to seek your dermatologist's advice here.
2. You Notice Red Patches
Your skin is sensitive if you observe redness even with minimal exposure to external elements. The red patches can be anything from a red rash, red bumps, or even red dilated blood vessels in an extreme scenario. This may be the reaction to certain harsh ingredients or due to genetic predisposition like rosacea. Usually, this redness tends to subside simply by removing the irritant or undergoing minor skin treatment including depilation.
3. Your Skin Has Dry Patches
If you face dryness and irritation on your skin, it's usually eczema, a type of dermatitis that fails to trap moisture due to a leaky skin barrier. If this persists, you may even see scaling and flaking. Over-the-counter creams can come to your rescue in case of mild eczema, but for extreme flare-ups, going with a topical steroid may provide relief.
4. Your Skin Feels Itchy
If your skin feels itchy, you may have sensitive skin, especially after using harsh cleansing products or when the air is dry and cold. Scratching constantly may make it worse with more irritation and chances of infection. So, it's best to talk to your healthcare provider and get the necessary treatment.
5. Your Skin Burns or Stings
A rule of thumb for all skin types – avoid using harsh beauty products as they won't do any good to your skin. Whether it is sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation, or cleanser, avoid using them if your skin reacts differently. People with sensitive skin generally have a thinner skin barrier, so applying these products can lead to stinging or burning. Alternatively, it's best to use gentle, hypoallergenic products that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
6. Your Skin Tends to Break Out Easily
Sensitive skin is more prone to breakouts as it may produce extra oil to make up for the moisture loss. This can further lead to clogged pores and then breakouts. These breakouts look similar to acne with red bumps, so you tend to use those acne creams to subside them.
Unfortunately, doing so can make things worse. It's best to use a gentle cleanser and make sure not to wash your face more than twice a day.
7. You Find Broken Capillaries on Your Skin
The small blood vessels visible on your skin's surface are the broken capillaries. You may generally find them on your cheeks and nose. People with sensitive skin are more prone to having broken capillaries as they have thin skin and fewer protective layers.
8. You're Sensitive to UV Rays
Stepping out in the sun without using sunscreen can be problematic for people with sensitive skin. In no time, you're flushed, and your skin will turn beet-red. This is because of photosensitivity, and it has the potential to cause rashes in no time. If that's you, it is always advisable to wear a hat, apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and avoid all types of synthetic products.
9. Your Skin Reacts to Fragrances
While you may be tempted to use all those fragrances, they are one of the most common triggers for sensitive skin. It's best to avoid using products that are scented with synthetic fragrances. Instead, opt for fragrance-free and gentle beauty products. Synthetic fragrances can oftentimes irritate sensitive skin.
What Causes Sensitive Skin?
There isn't a single cause attributed to sensitive skin. Sometimes it's the result of years of exposure to skin care products that have been damaging your skin's barrier and causing sensitivity. If you're wondering why your skin hurts, you're probably facing one of these issues:
It is a type of inflammation that occurs when your skin is exposed to an irritant like a detergent or a strong fragrance. This can cause minor damage to your skin's surface and is a common type of eczema.
Inflammation or allergic contact dermatitis can also be caused due to any specific skin allergies. Your skin may be allergic to various elements, including sun, dust, pollens, etc. When exposed, it can develop a rash, or cause redness and itching. Having an allergic reaction to a skin product can eventually cause sensitive skin.
Acne is one of the most common skin issues which is caused due to clogged skin pores. This, too, is a result of sensitive skin that you can overcome with acne-specific treatments.
It is a skin condition that causes redness, flushing, and swelling in the face and neck. Generally, people with a family history or fair skin are more at risk. People with rosacea have skin that's easily irritated by fragrances or specific ingredients. For example, you might experience a rosacea flare-up after using a new laundry detergent.
Dry winds are a common reason for dry skin. Excessive dry skin may cause irritation and itching and can even put you at risk of developing other skin conditions.
Wrapping It Up
Usually, having sensitive skin is not a serious issue as some people are sensitive to certain products. So, it's best to avoid harsh chemicals, fragrances, and all the other irritating ingredients in skincare products. This may help ease your symptoms and allow your skin to glow and stay clean and clear.
Anyone with sensitive skin should try patch testing before incorporating new beauty products into their regime.
If you're experiencing persistent or worsening symptoms, don't ignore them and immediately see your dermatologist or healthcare provider. They'll be able to examine and find the root cause, as you never know. There may be an underlying condition or allergy that is causing the issue. Get the necessary treatment to revive your skin's health.
Remember, this article is not meant to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're experiencing sensitive skin, you should contact a dermatologist.