More often than not, many clients who come to see me think they have sensitive skin. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be easily diagnosed as people's skin can flare up for several reasons. Even through the gray areas, it is important to pay close attention to your skin and products used to help prevent worsening of your issues and chronic inflammation which can also increase the rate of your skin aging. Let's take a closer look at the differences between sensitive skin, allergies and possible other concerns that may lead to reactive symptoms.
Sensitive skin can react easily by getting dry, red, bumpy and/or itchy when you use products with irritants such as detergents or fragrant components. This kind of contact irritation usually show symptoms in specific areas of skin that had contact with the irritant. With skin sensitivities, irritation usually develop immediately after contact but irritation can also happen after repeated exposure to the irritating ingredient(s). Often times, in sensitive skin cases, the skin barrier that helps protect and hold the good in while keeping the nasties out is compromised, broken and more permeable to let moisture escape and irritants in.
When you experience an allergy, the symptoms can be similar to those of contact irritation from sensitive skin. However, for allergic reactions, these symptoms can appear in other areas of the body where the irritant had not been in contact with skin. Such allergic contact dermatitis often comes from contact with fragrances in skincare/cosmetics, detergents (which are also common triggers for contact irritation with sensitive skin). Allergic skin symptoms occur when the immune system abnormally reacts to allergens you are exposed to and releases antibodies which results in visible symptoms mentioned. Unlike sensitive contact reactions, allergic reaction symptoms may not appear immediately and it may be months or years before your body reacts against allergens. It is not until your body has fully developed its response to the allergen that the symptoms may show.
Besides skin sensitivities or allergies, red, uncomfortable skin can be the result of skin conditions such eczema as rosacea which in addition to the mentioned symptoms, may also include broken capillaries. To make things even more complicated, there are also multiple subtypes of rosacea. Also, such skin conditions, allergies and skin sensitivities do not necessarily have to occur independently from one another.
Please note, this information is not meant for diagnosis and any concerns should be brought up to your medical professional. If you are unsure of your skin condition, visit a dermatologist. Unfortunately, it is not advisable to use some prescription medications long-term so you should be proactive and take a close look at the skincare products you are using. If you see a long list of "all natural" ingredients and/or essential oils, chances are you may want to stay clear. Here's why, with a list of suggested ingredients to avoid. If it turns out that your skin is sensitive, the best thing you can do is avoid using too many products, especially those with high irritant and sensitization potential, also listed in the previous link.
One of the most important things you an do is work to rebuild / strengthen your skin barrier with ingredients such as ceramides, phyto-ceramides and omega-3, omega-6 essential fatty acids. I have developed Lex and Jong with sensitive and sensitized skin in mind while going further to address many skin aging concerns that are often accelerated with sensitive and sensitized skin. Find out more in the About Us sections.
Your skin is your largest organ that does so much, but sometimes, we take it for granted. Listen to it. Be gentle to it. Give it the best care possible. It's not only worth it to ensure your skin's beauty but your skin's future health.