Truly sensitive skin is something you're stuck with, but many reactions are actually indications of another condition.
It's easy to dismiss peeling skin, rashes, and other annoying skin reactions as the inevitable manifestations of general skin sensitivity. But many cases of sensitive skin have an underlying cause. If you want to soothe your reactive complexion, you first must figure out what's causing the problem.
If your skin is truly sensitive, you won't be able to rid yourself of the problem. You may, however, be able to find a family of products that don't irritate your skin.
Sensitive Skin or Something Else?
To calm sensitive skin, you first must discern its cause. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your skin sensitive only at certain times? If so, the weather or environment may be irritating your skin. For example, winter dryness produces sensitivity in many people.
- What beauty products are you using?
- How many products do you use each day?
- Does your lifestyle seem to exacerbate your skin's sensitivity? Some people find that their skin is worse when they're stressed, sedentary, or unable to sleep. If this sounds familiar, the solution may lie in lifestyle changes—not new skincare products.
- Do other symptoms accompany your sensitive skin? Disruptions in your menstrual cycle, unexplained mood swings, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and other symptoms point to a medical cause of your skin's sensitivity.
- Do skin disorders such as eczema run in your family?
- Do you have a history of allergies?
Skin-irritating ingredients such as ammonia, benzoyl peroxide, menthol, and phenol are best avoided. Try only one new product at a time, and make a note of any common ingredients in products that irritate your skin. Using three or more products daily can irritate even normal skin, particularly if you use multiple products with the same ingredients.
The Important Role of Quality Medical Care
If you're not sure why your skin keeps erupting, it's time to see a doctor. Your physician will examine your skin for obvious signs of trauma as well as rashes that indicate common skin conditions, such as purpura or eczema. He or she may also test you for skin allergies and endocrine imbalances.
If your doctor finds no obvious problem, he or she will likely diagnose you with sensitive skin. Sensitive skin isn't a true medical diagnosis; it's a symptom. However, sensitivity may become your only diagnosis when no clear cause for your reactions is found.
Choosing the Right Products
Before you invest a small fortune in skincare and makeup for sensitive skin, start with the basics. A good moisturiser can keep sensitive skin in check. Skinstitut Moisture Defence – Ultra Dry is a great choice, particularly during the winter months.
Ditch your harsh cleanser in favour of a gentler alternative, such as Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser. And don't forget to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays with a sunscreen containing an SPF of at least 15.
To minimise reactions when you try new skin products:
- Introduce one product at a time. Use each new product for a full week before you add a second product.
- Don't pick at your skin or pop pimples. Doing so can irritate even the least sensitive skin.
- Don't wash your skin more frequently than necessary. Excessive cleansing dries your skin and may inflame sensitivity. Stick to cleansing at night after you remove your makeup.
- Sleep with a humidifier. Dry air can make dry skin more sensitive.
- Ask your doctor about prescription treatments. Dermatological formulas might benefit your skin, particularly if you have both sensitive skin and acne.
- Use only the products you need. If your current regimen works well, don't buy into the claims of a new 'miracle' product.