Sensitive Skin: Causes, Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Expert Tips – Allure

Posted: December 10, 2019 at 4:44 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

In the world of skin care, there are a few core skin-type terms that get thrown around pretty frequently namely, oily, combination, dry, acne-prone, and sensitive skin. That last one, sensitive skin, is one of those phrases that you hear about all the time, and you might even think you have it, but you're probably not sure what causes it in the first place or how to properly care for it. Is sensitive skin something you're born with, or can it happen to anyone? Are there different types, or degrees, of sensitive skin? What common skin-care ingredients should someone with sensitive skin try to avoid?

To find out the answers to all of these questions, we tapped a trio of board-certified dermatologists. Here, Jessie Cheung, Morgan Rabach and Amy B. Lewis help set the record straight on sensitive skin.

What is sensitive skin, and how can you tell if you have it?

"Sensitive skin is skin that is more reactive than usual," Cheung says. "It is easily irritated by the elements wind, sun, heat, or cold or by topical products." Other potential triggers can include hormones, lack of sleep, and even air pollution. When exposed to one of these triggering elements, sensitive skin may burn or sting, turn red, or otherwise feel very uncomfortable.

"Sensitive skin is caused by nerve endings in the top layer of skin becoming irritated," Lewis elaborates. "The irritation of nerve endings occurs when the skin's natural barrier is weakened or broken down by triggers."

Another potential trigger: skin-care products. Those with sensitive skin are generally more reactive to soaps, detergents, dyes, and fragrances in topical products, and using the wrong ones can result in itchiness, dryness, and reddening. This is why your skin-care routine is probably the most telling factor in whether or not you truly have sensitive skin.

"If you're cautious with trying new skin products or find that you're frequently battling red, flaky, itchy, or bumpy skin, then you probably have sensitive skin," Cheung says.

Heightened skin sensitivity isn't just annoying and uncomfortable, it could also signal an underlying skin condition, such as eczema or rosacea, or an allergy, all three experts say. For this reason alone, if you suspect that you have sensitive skin of any degree, you should book an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist who can help rule out any larger underlying conditions.

Are there different types of sensitivity?

Just like there are varying degrees of severity for oiliness, dryness, and acne, there are also different levels of sensitive skin. "For example, there are some people where we can isolate one ingredient or environmental factor like sweat or hot water that bothers them," Rabach explains. "Then there are some people where most skin-care products and environmental factors bother their skin."

According to Lewis, sensitive skin can generally be divided up into four main types: naturally sensitive, environmentally sensitive, reactive, and thin.

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Sensitive Skin: Causes, Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Expert Tips - Allure

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