Updated: Oct 15, 2021
What is Sensitive Skin?
You might assume that you have sensitive skin if your skin flares after applying a skincare product, or if it leaves a feeling of discomfort. However, this overused term may not be what you think it is.
The term “sensitive skin” is usually not a clinical diagnosis, but an expression that tells dermatologists that your skin tends to be more reactive than normal. It refers to skin that’s more susceptible to irritation by different stimuli, whether that’s stress, the weather, or topical products.
The irritation is usually accompanied by symptoms like redness, itchiness, burning, stinging, and discomfort. Since it’s not quite a medical term, you need to provide your dermatologist with more information and even testing for a better understanding.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Sensitive Skin?
A surefire way to check whether you have sensitive skin is by getting a professional dermatologist to do it.
When diagnosing sensitive skin, dermatologists lookout for certain signs. This includes skin reactions like bumps, pustules or skin erosion, as well as dryness.
A dermatologist may also conduct a skin patch test to determine if you have the condition.
Which Part of the Skin Is Related to Sensitive Skin?
The fat barrier on our skin acts as a protective fatty outer layer that retains water while making sure that damaging things like harsh UV rays, chemicals and heat are kept outside. For people with sensitive skin, this layer is usually thinner, weaker and more susceptible to damage.
This, therefore, makes it easier for irritants and allergens to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation, the core of skin sensitivity. People with sensitive skin absorb products more deeply, which is why skincare ingredients affect them easily.
A thin barrier also means that moisture escapes more easily, resulting in dryness. That’s also why dryness and sensitivity are usually concurrently present.
Is Sensitive Skin Related to My Immune System?
Unfortunately, it is. When an irritant goes past the fat barrier, it triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system.
Your immune system overworks itself because it assumes a threat, leading to redness, itching and pain. It’s prevalent in skin conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.
A skin allergy can result from constant exposure to a particular irritant, whether that’s a harsh skincare ingredient like fragrance or toxic substances like formaldehyde.
Does Frequent Skin-washing Worsen Sensitive Skin?
Although we’re encouraged to wash our hands more frequently because of COVID-19, doing so frequently can worsen your condition.
This is because soap and water can reduce your skin barrier. This is especially so if you use hot water or harsh soaps. Sanitising your hand often can also lead to the same result.
How Can I Protect My Skin in Hot Weather?
Singapore’s hot and humid all year. Protect your skin against the harsh elements by applying sunblock religiously. Remember that harmful UV rays are everywhere, so you should choose a suitable natural sunblock with an SPF level of at least 30.
Avoid going out between 10am and 5pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most harmful. You can also use an umbrella and carry it around with you wherever you go. The only active ingredients that you should use are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
What Type of Skincare Products Should I Use?
Avoid harsh skincare products that dry out your skin and trigger skin sensitivity. Be careful and watch out for certain ingredients, whether in chemical-based or plant-based products. For example, you should avoid fragrance, phthalates, and citrusy ingredients.
Keep it simple and gentle for both your skin care routine and ingredient lists. Read the label and steer clear of common irritants. To be safe, you can consult a professional or conduct a skin patch test to see if your skin reacts to it.
The Bottom Line
Seek professional help if you’re not sure whether you have sensitive skin. Do your due diligence and make sure you follow the right advice if you’re diagnosed with it!
Using gentle skincare products with a simple ingredient list may be a great help in improving this condition.