Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It serves as a protective barrier, helping prevent pathogens and free radicals from entering the body. Your skin also protects your bones and muscles. As you age, your skin goes through numerous changes. It may get thinner, drier, and lose elasticity. While these biological changes are normal and natural, sensitive skin can occur at any age. 

If you have sensitive skin, there are a few things you will need to do to nourish and protect it. However, you may not even know you have sensitive skin, to begin with. Let’s take a look at some of the warning signs and how to care for sensitive skin. 

What Exactly is Sensitive Skin?

Before we dive into the warning signs, it may be helpful to define sensitive skin. As a broad and all-encompassing term, sensitive skin has many different definitions. Some people consider sensitive skin to be a “skin type,” but it is actually a skin condition. With this in mind, you do not need to have sensitive skin to the touch for your skin to be considered sensitive. In fact, oily skin or combination skin can still be considered sensitive. Dermatologists look for skin reactions such as bumps or skin erosion, very dry skin, or a tendency toward blushing and flaking of the skin when diagnosing sensitive skin. 

Sensitive skin is typically caused by an overactive immune system or a weak skin barrier function. Some experts believe sensitive skin is genetically linked, therefore, hereditary. 

You May Have Sensitive Skin If You Experience…

Light burning sensations. If you have sensitive skin to the touch, you may suffer from slight burning or tingling on your skin’s surface. This can be localized or around a large portion of the body. Oftentimes, these light burning sensations are a reaction to an external factor such as a free radical, cleaning solution, or allergic entity. 

Stinging. Similar to a light burning sensation, if you feel any kind of stinging on your skin that is not related to a puncture wound, insect bite, or sunburn, this is your body’s natural reaction to an external element that irritates your skin. 

Dry skin or dry skin patches. Dry skin is a telltale characteristic of sensitive skin. This symptom is very noticeable and may even make you a bit irritable. Many people suffer from dry skin during the colder months. While this doesn’t mean we all have sensitive skin, you will notice your skin drying out faster than usual and during odd times (for example, during a humid day). Dry skin can happen anywhere on the body, but it is most common on hands, feet, arms, and lower legs. 

Reaction to certain perfumes and lotions. You may have sensitive skin if your skin reacts to specific perfumes and lotions. Your skin may become tight, or you may experience pain and tingling at the contact site. After using new products, be sure to pay close attention, making sure you are aware if you feel sensitive skin to the touch. 

Itching. Chronic itching is a sign of sensitive skin and can be related to other more serious skin conditions, such as eczema or an allergic reaction. Itching may also occur after using harsh chemicals on your skin. But you do not have to use the chemicals directly on the skin to have an adverse reaction. Certain laundry detergents and cleansers may trigger sensitive skin symptoms, like itching. 

Redness. Many people report experiencing redness as a symptom of sensitive skin. This may be in the form of a rash, natural blushing of the face, hives, pimples, or even telangiectasias (red, dilated blood vessels). You may also experience rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition that presents redness and small bumps over the skin. 

Frequent breakouts. In addition to redness, those suffering from sensitive skin may also experience frequent breakouts and bouts of acne. Sometimes acne medication and washes can worsen symptoms, drying out the skin even more. 

You get frequent sunburns after limited sun exposure. If you wear sunscreen, stay in the shade, and do all the things to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and you still sunburn, you may have sensitive skin. This is because sensitive skin is more susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun. 

Blisters. As if redness, itching, or stinging wasn’t enough! Sensitive skin can also cause blisters due to an allergic reaction. These are red and swollen lesions that contain a clear liquid. 

How to Care for Sensitive Skin

Though the symptoms of sensitive skin may be numerous, the good news is that most skin conditions are highly treatable. You just have to know the right products to use based on your skin’s composition and needs. 

Firstly, it is important to identify a few common mistakes people make when attempting to care for their sensitive skin. It may be tempting to indulge in harsh cleansing, extreme exfoliation, caking makeup on to hide blemishes, washing with hot water, or overusing skin masks or chemical peels. These methods may seem helpful, but in fact, it could be contributing to your sensitive skin. 

One easy treatment option you can practice daily is drinking a cup of warm lemon water each morning before you start your day. Lemon water contains vitamin C and antioxidants that can manage free-radical damage. It helps to detoxify your blood, helping prevent blemishes, acne, and more. In addition to a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning, you should also aim to hydrate regularly with water throughout the day. Water will flush toxins out of your system, helping your skin to stay healthy, strong, and non-irritated. 

Moisturizer is your friend when you’re searching for how to care for sensitive skin. Choose an organic product free of fragrances and limited chemicals. Sensitive skin is often associated with dry skin. Moisturizing daily can combat this symptom and improve your skin’s moisture barrier. Always check your skin care products before purchasing to determine if there are any ingredients that can trigger your sensitive skin. These ingredients may be but are not limited to alcohol, dyes, fragrance, glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and sulfates. 

Gentle products will contain ingredients such as aloe vera, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, seaweed, micro silver, rutin, colloidal oatmeal, and sodium hyaluronate. 

You can still use your favorite cosmetics, but not after inspecting their ingredients first. Use face powder that contains fewer preservatives and minimal risk of skin irritation. If you need to use foundation, choose one that is silicone-based. Avoid waterproof cosmetics since you need to use a special (harsher) cleanser to remove these types of products. Black eyeliner and mascara appear to be less allergenic and always throw out old cosmetics because they can become spoiled or contaminated. 

Did you know that your diet plays a significant role in your skin’s health? There are certain foods that may contribute to sensitive skin and the symptoms that accompany the condition. For example, gluten-based foods such as soy sauce, beer, wheat bread, and cereals, alongside foods with artificial colors and preservatives should be consumed sparingly. Instead, indulge in a healthy and well-balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and oily fish. 

Stress and skin problems are linked as well. Stress can cause dry skin, inflammation, and other unfavorable reactions within our skin. Get plenty of rest and practice self-care to help reduce the stress in your life. 

How to Conduct a Patch Test for Sensitive Skin

Whenever you are trying a new product, be it a toner, moisturizer, or cosmetic, be sure to conduct a small skin patch test to determine if your skin will be reactive to the product. Take the product and apply a small amount onto the skin of your forearm. Wait 24 hours and observe how your skin reacts (or does not) to the product. If you are still unsure, repeat the test. No reaction? The product is safe for your skin!

Additional Tips on How to Care for Sensitive Skin

Your skin will change as you age, so some products may not provoke a reaction now but could later down the line. Awareness is key. There are also a few additional tactics you can use to help care for sensitive skin. For example, avoid taking long, hot showers. This will dry your skin, leaving it vulnerable and susceptible to outside agents. When shaving, be sure to use shaving cream to prevent razor burn. After your shower, do not rub your skin with a towel to dry off. Instead, gently pat dry your skin. And above all, use a moisturizer that is meant for sensitive skin. 

Skin Treatments and Products for You

If you are not sure what products would be the best for your skin, consider booking a consultation at First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic. Our knowledgeable practitioners can answer any question you may have, as well as recommend appropriate skincare treatments tailored specifically to your sensitive skin needs. What do you have to lose?