Skin Sensitivity: Possible Causes and Treatments

Do you have skin sensitivity? Does your skin react to anything and everything? It may be annoying or even downright excruciating, but don’t worry — you’re not alone!

A 2019 study published in the Frontiers in Medicine Journal revealed that an estimated 70% of the US population think they have sensitive skin, while around only 50% experience some of the signs that come with it. Sensitive skin isn’t a disease in itself, however, but a symptom of a larger problem.

So if you’re not sure if you have sensitive skin or how to remedy it, keep reading! Here are some of the possible causes for skin sensitivity and their respective treatments.

skin sensitivity
Skin Sensitivity

Your skin is naturally sensitive

Dry skin is the first and most natural cause of sensitive skin. Dry skin is easily irritated as it lacks protective moisture. It can be genetic, caused over time due to habits such as over washing, or can be a result of environmental conditions, such as living in an extremely dry or cold climate. It can feel rough, tight, chapped, and even itchy.

Another natural cause of sensitive skin is aging. Skin becomes thinner as you grow older. With fewer protective layers, it has more difficulty retaining moisture, making it more irritable.

Your skin is environmentally sensitive

Skin can also be easily irritated by anything that it comes into immediate contact with. One condition that can result from this is irritant contact dermatitis (ICD), which is most commonly what manifests when patients say they have sensitive skin.

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ICD causes rashes or bumps that itch or burn. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with irritating agents such as bodily fluids, environmental conditions, or even sensations such as friction.

And while contact urticaria also makes your skin itch or burn upon contact with an irritating factor, it instead causes a particular kind of rash known as hives, which are red bumps on the skin that turn white when pressed.

Your skin is reactive

This means your immune system develops a response to an irritant that manifests through your skin. The responses can be general or specific, and are usually symptoms of an underlying skin condition.

General immune reactions include eczema, when an over-aggressive immune system attacks both bodily proteins as well as bacteria and viruses. This results in skin inflammation and dry patches of skin tend to form that can be extremely itchy. Another condition is rosacea, which results in a sunburned look with bumps and swelling.

Meanwhile, specific immune reactions often point to skin allergies, such as allergic contact dermatitis and physical urticaria. Unlike ICD and contact urticaria, these two conditions only flare up in specific conditions.

Treating sensitive skin

For naturally occurring sensitive skin, it’s best to reapply and retain moisture in the affected areas yourself. That’s why it’s vital to establish a skincare routine for sensitive skin filled with calming and moisturizing ingredients. One good rule of thumb to follow when choosing products is to stay away from those that have alcohol and fragrance include in them.

Instead, look for fragrance-free items with natural and soothing ingredients like peptides, colloidal oatmeal, and cherimoya. These boost collagen production and skin renewal, and are gentle on the skin.

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Other good ingredients are glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter. They are all humectants, which help draw in and retain moisture. Consequently, the best time to apply lotion is within a narrow window of two to three minutes after bathing, as this is when your skin is most accepting of moisture.

Pair this with the use of soap-free cleansers, which won’t strip your skin of any natural oils that it manages to retain. And if your skin starts reacting negatively to a product, stop using it immediately and try another one after the reaction has gone. Ultimately, finding the right products for you involves some trial and error.

Contacting your local dermatologist

However, if you suspect that you have one of the aforementioned skin conditions, it’s best to forego home remedies and seek professional help.

And while it won’t hurt to take over-the-counter antihistamines for a suspected skin allergy, it’s still advisable to consult your dermatologist to know the complete treatment plan for your skin condition in the long run.

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