Sensitive skin is common and unique to the person.

Sensitive skin is common. You aren’t alone and like you, many people struggle in managing it. Some people find that their skin can become irritated or inflamed when it comes in contact with certain products, substances, or environmental factors such as sun or extreme heat or cold. Sensitive skin may also develop as a result of other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or allergies. Your triggers may be very specific or seemingly infinite.

Symptoms can be different for everyone.

Typical symptoms of sensitive skin include stinging, burning, itching, welting, dryness, and redness. Extremely sensitive individuals may have reactions with flaking, pimples, or even blisters.  

Regardless of the cause, it helps to determine what your triggers (or potential triggers) are and avoid them. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Tips on Caring for Sensitive Skin:

  • Avoid cleansers or products that contain acids, alcohol or retinoids
    • What to Avoid: Most acne and antiaging products will fall into this category.
      • Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Tretinoin, some acne prescriptions
    • What to Substitute: Calming, soothing ingredients
      • Allantoin, Aloe, Azulene, Borage Seed Oil, Chamomile, Calendula, Colloidal Oat, Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5), Cucumber, Lecithin, Shea Butter.
  • Do not use soaps and detergents that contain deodorant, fragrances, or dyes
    • Avoid:  Almost everything (sorry)
    • Substitute: “Free and Clear”, baby, sensitive skin soaps and detergents
  • Gently wash the skin with a soft cloth
    • Avoid:  Abrasive materials, loofas, and sugar scrubs, products with peach pits and nut shells
    • Substitute: Baby cotton washcloths are an excellent choice.
  • Wear soft, natural fabrics and loose-fitting clothes
    • Avoid: Wool, nylon, rayon
    • Substitute: Cotton and silk
  • Be cautious of the sun
    • Avoid: Extended exposure to the sun
    • Substitute: Sun protective clothing, hats and sunscreen that contains zinc oxide year-round
  • Use warm water for showers
    • Avoid hot water which can dry out the skin

Spot Test, Spot Test, Spot Test!!!

Before anyone with sensitive skin uses a product for the first time, it should be tested behind the ear or on the wrist. I’m partial to the inner arm near your elbow. You can keep an eye on it, and it comes in to contact with less of the world than your wrist. If you don’t have a response after using the product in a regular fashion after a few days, it should be safe to use.

If you can’t seem to avoid reactions with your sensitive skin, it may be time to see a professional.

People who suffer from frequent rashes or reactions may consult with a dermatologist to determine whether they are having an allergic reaction to a specific product or ingredient. The dermatologist will review your symptoms and may refer you to an allergist to perform a patch test. Allergists perform patch testing by applying the ingredient to the skin and looking for a rash to develop within one to two days. If a specific reaction is identified, then that substance can be avoided in the future.

Final Thought

By avoiding products that may irritate the skin and following a gentle cleansing routine, most sensitive skin problems can be alleviated.