Sensitive Skin is extremely common skin condition however it is not defined in medical practise.
Sensitive skin or better termed sensitised skin, is usually the intolerance of the skin to topical applications (not just cosmetics) which leads to irritation and reactivity. This can appear as burning, tingling, stinging, dryness, redness, tightness and can be extremely uncomfortable to the person.
Although the definitive cause of sensitised skin is unknown, there is a major factor of impaired barrier function (skins protective layer) associated with sensitised skin. The Barrier function of the skin is a protective layer that protects the skin from the environment. This impairment can be the cause of intrinsic ageing, genetic factors, skin trauma, sun exposure and skincare which washes away the skin lipids in the barrier and allow water evaporation and cause sensitivity. Allergic reactions and skin conditions like eczema and rosacea can also lead to sensitised skin.
So this leads us to how do we manage sensitised skin?
Sensitised skin can be managed by a skincare routine which aids in the maintenance and repair of impaired barrier function and a routine which does not further damage the impaired barrier function.
This can be seen with skincare that contains specialised ingredients of occulants, hydration, oils, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents for the repair and continuing maintenance of the barrier function. Initially sensitised skin may also require calming and hydrating products that rely heavily on anti-inflammatory ingredients to aid in soothing the discomfort and calming the sensitive area. Evidence based ingredients like colloidal oats are a great example of such ingredients.
Skincare can also further cause damage to the barrier function and for example a cleanser may be too harsh with its cleansing agents who will cause the lipids in the barrier function to be removed or impaired. It’s important in sensitive skin to look for cleanser with a cream base as it also supplies nourishing hydrating and oils to the skin.
For further information on sensitive skin and skincare management please speak to a David Deans Skincare Therapist.