Sensitive Skin

Sometimes, when skin can’t take a joke, it’s being too sensitive. HA! I crack me up. The term “sensitive skin” is actually a catchall term for a number of skin conditions. Generally, when people say their skin is sensitive, they mean that their skin hates the world and becomes irritated with minimal provocation. Seeing as how your skin is the largest organ on your body, this can potentially cause a lot of problems. The most common causes of skin irritation are rosacea, acne, and contact dermatitis (allergies or other irritants). Rosacea is a condition involving red, blotchy skin, broken blood vessels, and pimples. Acne is caused by excess oil and bacteria. Then there are the many possible man-made and natural elements that can cause allergies or otherwise irritate the skin. Completely overcoming sensitive skin might be unattainable, but it can be managed and adverse reactions can be minimized.

Symptoms of Sensitive Skin

  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Flushing
  • Burning
  • Puffiness

Best Ways to Manage Sensitive Skin

Keep Skin Healthy

Keeping skin healthy can minimize the damage. The first step to healthy skin is keeping it clean and properly moisturized. Skin that is too dry or oily will become irritated more easily. Protecting your skin from wind and sun damage is also important because damaged skin is more likely to be affected by outside factors. You can also try eating healthy, which is good for every part of you, but certain vitamins can especially improve the health of your skin. B vitamins in particular will help keep your skin moisturized (riboflavin, niacin, biotin, B6, and B12).

Try Hypoallergenic Products

There are tons of “hypoallergenic” products out there to try. The multitude of beauty products on the market is not short on items made for those with sensitive skin. The problem here is that the word “hypoallergenic” may not always be truthful. Companies can use the term to mean whatever they want since it isn’t standardized. Look for products without many ingredients and no fragrances, alcohol, or preservatives. Try them out to see what works for you. Test for sensitivity by applying the product to a small patch of skin for several days prior to use. We’d recommend, especially for a cleanser, to use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild soap (as discussed below). You can find it on Amazon.

Choose the Right Clothes

Try changing the type of clothes you wear and how you clean them. Certain fabrics will be easier on your skin than others, like those made from soft, natural fibers like cotton and silk. Clothes should also be loose and comfortable. Clothing that is too tight can cause skin irritation. The detergent and fabric softener that you use to clean them should be easy on your skin as well. Same guidelines here as for beauty products: Steer clear of fragrances and harsh chemicals. Bleach, for example, is a known skin irritant.

Track Allergic Reactions

If you have an allergy, figure out what causes it and then avoid it. Unfortunately, there is no treatment to rid yourself of skin allergies, so you have to learn to live with it. Try out different products until you find one that doesn’t invoke the wrath of your allergy. If you cannot pinpoint your allergy on your own, a dermatologist can test for it and tell you the best course of action. It may involve medication or just learning to use alternatives to whatever it is that irritates your skin. Keeping a journal will help track the breakouts.

In addition to food to environmental allergies, you might be allergic to things you are putting on your skin.  Perhaps your skin reacts to the moisturizer or deodorant you are using, or maybe you are using sunscreen or products to get rid of arm hair that trigger some type of sensitivity.  Keep track of when your sensitive skin is at its worst, and connect the dots.

Treat Underlying Conditions

Treat underlying skin conditions to soothe your irritated skin. There are a variety of skin conditions—rosacea, acne, psoriasis, etc.—that might be contributing to your sensitivity. If you get the condition under control, you also help out the sensitivity. Treatment will differ depending on what you’ve got going on. The best advice you can get on this score will be from a dermatologist. As with allergies, there are some skin conditions that will need prescription medication and some that you can manage at home by using certain products and avoiding others.

Allergies and Natural Products

Having sensitive skin can be even tougher with allergies involved. This makes finding good lotion, creams, and cleansers a little trickier. Harsh man-made chemicals are too abrasive for your skin and you may be allergic to the aloe in a natural moisturizer. I am a big fan of using products made from natural ingredients, but if you have allergies, you need to be careful with them. This applies to any allergy you might have. If, for example, you’re allergic to the pollen in a certain flower and that flower finds its way into your shampoo, prepare yourself for an angry scalp. On top of that, you’re stuck with an entire bottle of shampoo you can’t use. To save yourself the trouble, be sure to read the ingredients before you buy and use new products—including natural ones.

Natural Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin

Burt’s Bees Fragrance-Free Shea Butter Lotion

Made from 99 percent natural ingredients, this lotion will moisturize your body without the added fragrances that tend to irritate sensitive skin. It seems to work great on everything from preventing new blemishes to recovering from skin irritation to helping your skin be more uniform. You can find a pack of 3 on sale at Amazon, here.

Dr. Bronner’s Baby-Mild Liquid Soap

This soap is free of fragrances and dyes, is safe for babies, and easy on sensitive skin. It can also be used for your whole body, even your hair.

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About the Author

Jacki Nilssen

Jacki Nilssen