Sensitive skin is not a medical diagnosis, but it is a common issue as it refers to skin being more susceptible to inflammation or adverse reactions, according to Medical News Today, a medical and health news website. If you have sensitive skin, it may have strong reactions to fragrances, chemicals, and dyes in the products you use.
You may also start to develop rashes or irritation from friction or clothing. Are you aware that sensitive skin is a symptom of an underlying condition in many cases? If so, you have to find ways to avoid triggers and to soothe your skin to help you live a more comfortable life.
Perceptions of Sensitive Skin Across Age Groups (2015)
Miranda A. Farange of Link Springer, a provider of millions of scientific documents from journals and more, conducted a survey among 1,039 older and younger adults to compare their perceptions of skin sensitivity. Farange found that 68% of participants described themselves as having sensitive skin to some degree. 77% perceive their facial area as sensitive, along with their overall body (61%) and genital area (56%). 5% said their skin is very sensitive, perceiving their facial area (11%), overall body (2%), and genital area (9%) as very sensitive.
41% said their skin is slightly sensitive, sharing the same perception for their facial area (43%), body (41%), and genital area (34%). 23% said their skin is moderately sensitive, which also applied to their facial area (24%), body (18%), and genital area (14%). Only 32% of respondents said their skin is not sensitive, so as their facial area (23%), body (39%), and genital area (44%).
For all age groups, the respondents believed they have sensitive skin because some products cause rashes (25%) or burning, stinging, itching, or other unpleasant sensations (25%). A similar percentage of participants aged 30 and below (27%), 31-39 (25%), 40-49 (27%), and 50 and above (21%) believed that some products cause rashes, so as products that cause unpleasant sensations (23% of 30 and below 27% of 31-49 years, 23% of 40-49 years, and 29% of 50 and over).
Other reasons cited by the participants were their skin being sensitive to extreme weather conditions (36%), items rubbing against their skin (7%), and having sensitive skin to another reason (7%). Between age groups, participants aged 30 and below (34%), 31-39 years (37%), 40-49 (35%), and 50 and above (33%) believed their skin is sensitive to extreme weather conditions.
7% of respondents aged 30 and under, 6% of 31-39 years, 8% of 40-49 years, and 7% 50 and above said items that rub against their skin cause their skin to become sensitive. 10% of participants aged 50 and over said they have sensitive skin due to another reason, though a smaller percentage of younger age groups shared the same sentiment (9% of respondents aged 30 and below, 6% of 31-39 years, and 7% of 40-49 years).
More participants aged 50 years and older said their genital skin (66%), body skin (64%), facial skin (83%) are sensitive to a degree. However, those aged 30 years and under (77%) and between 31-39 (78%) years said their facial skin is sensitive to a degree compared to 69% of those aged 40-49 years. Interestingly, 67% of participants who reported skin sensitivity said they have a family history of sensitive skin (versus 37% of those who don’t have sensitive skin).
What Are the Causes of Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin may be caused by a minor skin condition or other issues within your skin. You may experience irritation after exposing yourself to sunlight, heavy winds, very cold temperatures, and very hot temperatures. You may also be prone to reactions to skincare products, certain types of clothing, or makeup. Symptoms may appear as rashes or hives, breakouts, patches of redness, sunburns, stinging or burning sensations whether or not it has noticeable changes on your skin.
Sensitive skin may also be caused by contact dermatitis, which refers to skin reactions that occur after touching something. Your skin may become itchy, swollen, or red and in some cases, it can become dry and crack. It is also possible for blisters to form. Photodermatoses is an abnormal reaction to sunlight that may cause reactions in your skin. If you have this condition, the sun’s UV rays may trigger your immune system, triggering skin reactions. Photodematoses could cause your exposed skin to develop a rash, blisters, or scaly patches. Adverse reactions could worsen the longer the sun’s rays touch your skin.
Other possible causes of sensitive skin are hormonal imbalance triggered by stress or specific life events (ex: the menstrual cycle or pregnancy and dehydration), Eucerin, a brand and pioneer of medical skin science. The latter can dry out your skin due to excess sweating or lack of fluids. Skin inflammation and rashes can be triggered if you undiagnosed or untreated allergies to food like gluten, eggs, dairy, and additives.
What Should I do About Sensitive Skin?
It is recommended to reduce the water’s temperature and avoid spending too much time in the shower— especially if you live in an area with hard water. You can also use mild tensides or shower oils or patting your skin dry. You can consult a doctor if you suspect that you have undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances. When choosing skin care products for sensitive skin, it is best to purchase those that contain mild surfactants to help protect your skin’s natural defenses and prevent it from becoming dry. Many cleansers are powerful to the point that they get rid of the hydrolipid film that protects your skin, not just dirt.
Ensure that the product you will use is free of irritants and needs to enable your skin’s regenerative processes and natural defenses. Keep an eye on products that contain Dexpanthenol, which is known for its regenerative properties, and Citrate Buffer to support your skin’s natural pH levels. Gluco Glycerol helps hydrate your skin, stimulating the Aquaporins or the moisture distribution channels.
Sensitive skin can be treated from the comfort of your own home, though this usually involves identifying the product or substance that causes your skin sensitivity and avoiding it. Consult your dermatologist if you think your symptoms have not subsided, said Corinne O’Keefe Osborn of Healthline, a medical information and health advice website. Your dermatologist can provide you with a gentle skin care routine to help your skin feel and look good.
Sensitive skin can be caused by external factors, contact dermatitis, or hormonal imbalances. Skin sensitivity can also be triggered if you have an undiagnosed allergy to certain food. While sensitive skin can be treated at home, feel free to consult your dermatologist if you think you need help creating a gentle skin care routine or alleviating your symptoms.