Updated: Sep 21, 2021
What Exactly is Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin is actually a type of skin condition. Typically, when there are environmental changes (like hot and cold temperatures, dryness, or the onset of unusual weather and more), emotional changes (like nervousness or laughter), or after using inappropriate cosmetics, the face may turn red, itchy, and unbearable.
These symptoms show that skin sensitivity is present. People with sensitive skin frequently experience itching, tingling, or burning sensations on their skin.
After using cosmetics, they may feel their skin start to itch or feel taut after cleansing their face. These people might even experience erythema, dry skin, or acne.
In serious cases, blisters, erosion, and pustules may even occur.
So, What Do Skin Allergies Mean? Are They the Same as Sensitive Skin?
Skin allergy, or allergic contact dermatitis, refers to a condition where allergy symptoms or rashes appear after the skin comes into contact with a particular substance that may trigger allergies.
If you are truly allergic to a certain substance, you are likely unable to have contact with it for life - if you do, allergic contact dermatitis will take place. This does not happen with sensitive skin; after the sensitive stage has passed, it may return to normal again.
How Do You Determine Whether You Have Allergic Contact Dermatitis or Sensitive Skin?
You can discern between the two by conducting a skin patch test. If you suspect that you are allergic to any type of cosmetics or certain ingredients, you can apply the cosmetics to your back and remove them after 48 hours.
Observe for 72 hours and 96 hours whether allergic reactions surface on your skin. If an allergic reaction occurs, it means that it is a positive result and indicates that you might be allergic to these substances.
When this happens, you need to avoid any contact with them throughout your lifetime, which includes using cosmetics with the same or similar ingredients.
On the other hand, if you do not experience any allergic reaction, it means that it is a negative result, and suggests that the skin may be sensitive.
If the sensitive area or the area with impaired skin barrier function comes into contact with such substances, problems may occur. Should you have regular skin that is simply sensitive, it does not pose any problem, because once the sensitive stage has passed, you can continue using such cosmetics again.
Additionally, you can be your own judge and think about whether you have a sensitive skin condition. Some signs to look out for are skin tightness after washing your face with clean water, whether you experience tightness, burning, tingling itching, or itching - these may indicate sensitive skin.
You can also download questionnaires and skin tests to assess whether you have sensitive skin.
What Are Some of the Reasons That Cause Skin Sensitivity?
First, the skin’s physiological anatomical structure is divided into the dermis and epidermis. The epidermis is further divided into the keratinocyte layer, the granular cell layer, the spinous cell layer, the basal cell layer, and the outermost keratinocyte layer from the outside to the inside.
This outermost layer may serve as a protective and even immune layer and is not ineffectual.
The structure of connective tissues between keratinocytes and cells constitutes the skin barrier. A good skin barrier can protect the skin, but if you receive inappropriate cosmetic treatments, such as excessive exfoliation, or use cosmetics containing hormones and other inappropriate ingredients, it may damage the skin's protective layer.
This may cause external harmful substances such as pollen and dust mites, smog, heavy metals, bacteria, etcetera, to be more likely to enter the skin, causing skin inflammation and sensitivity.
In addition, over-cleaning can also destroy the skin's protective barrier. For example, Northerners like to take a bath. After over-cleaning and rubbing off, it will destroy the skin's protective layer. It will be susceptible to cold, dry and other irritations. Sensitive skin and eczema will also occur.
Second, over-sensitization and sensitization of nerves may arise from the same stimuli. For example, regular people can continue to live normally even when exposed to the cold or heat, but people with sensitive skin can feel uncomfortable, itchy, and experience redness.
Nerve sensitization is also related to the destruction of skin barrier function, skin inflammation, emotions, and so on.
Third, immune disorders: Whether for allergic or sensitive skin, they are caused by an excessive immune response or inflammatory response in the human body. Therefore, avoid blindly eating drugs that enhance immunity, such as cordyceps and ginseng, which may aggravate your condition.
Fourth, your lifestyle, like stress levels, emotional state and diet, are linked to sensitive skin. Humans have two states: the resting state and the working state.
In the working state, the human body will have a series of physiological reactions, like blood pressure and blood sugar rising adaptively. The thyroid gland releases thyroxine, and pupils shrink.
Androgen is more sensitive and adapts to the state of stress. Staying in this state over the long term will lead to skin immune regulation disorder, nerve sensitization, blood vessel hyperresponsiveness, etc., and the appearance of sensitive skin.
Fifth, there are different types of sensitive skin that are related to endocrine factors. For example, women before and after menstruation or menopause have relatively sensitive skin.
Among Artificial Inducements, the so-called "Hormonal Face" Is Caused by the Improper Use of Cosmetics
Skin diseases, such as rosacea, eczema, or skin inflammation, will cause skin sensitivity, or skin damage. For example, during sunburn or laser treatment, skin damage indicates that the skin’s protective layer has been destroyed.
In the subclinical stage of skin diseases, some skin diseases will first manifest as skin sensitivity before moving on to skin diseases. The stage of skin sensitivity is called the subclinical stage of skin diseases.
However, the most serious and common clinical cause is improper cosmetics. Improper beauty treatments, especially excessive exfoliating skincare, can lead to skin sensitivity. For example, washing your face more than a dozen times a day, or making a mask more than a dozen times a day, all belong to excessive cleansing and excessive beautification.
When you use exfoliating cosmetics excessively, the skin may be very smooth and delicate after the cutin is removed at first, like a boiled egg that has been peeled, and the exposed skin is very soft, which can be whitened and faded in a short period of time. However, frequent exfoliation will destroy the skin's protective barrier and make the skin sensitive.
What's more, some topical medicines and even cosmetics contain hormones. Short-term use will make the skin feel good. However, regular use of such hormone-containing cosmetics or medicines will further damage the skin’s barrier function and cause the capillaries to expand.
The skin becomes more sensitive and will feel uncomfortable after the hormones are no longer used. You will feel as though your skin is taking drugs. It will not be able to stop the hormones, leading to the so-called "hormone-dependent dermatitis (HDD)."
Some cosmetics or medicines do not indicate any ingredients, so you must be very cautious when using them. If your skin condition improves quickly after using a certain cosmetic, you need to be wary of whether hormones are added to such cosmetics.
In particular, whitening cosmetics may also add exfoliating ingredients, hormones or heavy metals, and heavy metals will be more harmful and may even cause skin malignant diseases such as skin tumors.
Which Skincare Products Can Cause Sensitive Skin?
Many facial cleansers or cosmetics contain the skin cleansing agent, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Excessive use will increase skin sensitivity; some fragrances also cause allergies easily, especially in those who have skin diseases or skin sensitivity.
Use when sex increases; certain preservatives are also more likely to cause contact allergy or photosensitivity.
Some pure plant cosmetics may contain fruit acid, salicylic acid, and other ingredients. These are exfoliants. Excessive use of exfoliants will damage the skin barrier’s function and cause sensitive skin. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, you should choose medical skin care products for sensitive skin.
What Are the Symptoms of Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin is divided into four clinical types:
Type 1 is where facial flushing occurs mainly when emotionally stressed, drinking alcohol, eating spicy food, or when the temperature changes suddenly. This type of skin sensitivity is often caused by the destruction of the skin barrier and belongs to the type with a low skin barrier function.
The second type is usually caused by irritation of environmental factors, such as temperature changes, leading to skin erythema, tightness, itching, burning sensation and even tingling sensation, and inflammatory papules on the skin. This often requires consultation with a dermatologist (barrier function is normal, with inflammation).
Type 3 happens when there is contact with cosmetics or when you wash your face with soap. You may experience the same skin reaction as Type 2 - even though there may be no skin inflammation (no pimples or erythema), but you may feel tightness, itching, burning, and tingling.
Wait for any uncomfortable signs (normal barrier function, inflammatory reaction, pseudo-healthy type), and they appear, you need to choose suitable cosmetics to correct your skin under the guidance of a doctor.
Type 4 may be related to endocrine, menstrual cycles or special circumstances, such as skin sensitivity in women with menopause. The skin will improve after this period has passed.
Is Sensitive Skin In-born? Can It Be Prevented in Advance?
A woman's skin is softer and more prone to skin sensitivity than men.
People with fairer skin are more likely to have sensitive skin, and women with relatively whiter and drier skin may have a higher chance of having sensitive skin. Women with fair complexion must pay attention, especially women who are unable to get tanned.
When choosing cosmetics, try to choose cosmetics for sensitive skin as much as possible, or cosmetics that are not prone to problems after use.
Treatment and Daily Care of Sensitive Skin
The best way to deal with sensitive skin is to find a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. After confirming that it is sensitive skin, follow the doctor's advice, use a sufficient course of treatment, and stop the medicine slowly. Contact our Skincare specialist Elaine.
The effects of treatment are usually excellent. If the skin is itchy, oral anti-allergic drugs can be taken to relieve the itching symptoms. In severe cases, the system may also use anti-inflammatory, anti-nerve sensitivity and vascular hyperresponsive drugs.
If the skin is already in a sensitive state, not all skin care products cannot be used, but some suitable skin care products can still be used. Try to choose single-component, gentle care products, such as "sensitive skin" cosmetics. L'eaine Hydra & Soothing Serum can effectively reduce redness and soothes sensitive skin. It also strengthen skin barrier.
In general, there are three principles of skin care for sensitive skin:
The first is to use mild products without irritating ingredients, and try to choose skin care products that do not contain fragrance, alcohol, exfoliating properties, and perform excessive cleaning. Start with the gentle cleanser for pH balance and without overdrying after wash.
Second, maintain the health of the skin, protect the skin barrier by moisturising and replenishing water content. Do not overuse exfoliating cosmetics; third, supplement skin nutrition and anti-inflammatory abilities to protect and restore the skin barrier function.
In life, try to avoid being in a state of anxiety and tension. If you are allergic to dust mites, try not to spread carpets at home. If it is very dry, you can use a humidifier. If the haze is severe, you can use an air purifier that removes the haze. Try to make the small environment in which you live and live in a more comfortable state.
In terms of diet, avoid the excessive intake of supplements, especially cordyceps and ginseng, which improve immunity, and eat a normal and healthy diet. Try to avoid eating particularly skin-triggering foods, such as spicy foods, coffee, wine, etc., so that you can live a healthy life.
In addition, stay away from mobile phones and computers as much as possible. These electronic products will have negative ions, attract dust or pollutants to the face or skin, and further increase sensitivity. To protect your skin from blue light, can add on skincare product which is able to protect from blue light in your skincare routine.
In short, sensitive skin is only a state of the skin, not an incurable disease, and you must establish confidence in conquering it. Master the correct skin care method, seek the help of a doctor when necessary, and you will find that it is not difficult to restore your skin’s health.