Sensitive Skin Needs a Lot of TLC
Do you dread trying to find a cosmetic because you know that chances are its going to cause your skin to burn and turn red? Do you have a bathroom cupboard full of creams and lotions that you have only used once or twice because they reacted badly with your face? Then you have sensitive skin which is probably the most frustrating skin type to have. So how do you deal with it?
The main problems with sensitive skin are redness, burning, tightness, dryness and irritation. This skin type can also be prone to dermatitis, eczema or acne. The first course of action would be to find out if an allergy is causing the problem.
A dermatologist may perform a patch test to see if you are susceptible to one of the more common allergens. It may be an ingredient in a cosmetic, it may even be a dietary allergy or food intolerance. If allergy is ruled out then the problem is genetic and there are still several things that can be done to help the situation.
When buying any cosmetic always look for "Hypo Allergenic" on the label. This does not guarantee it won't react to you skin but it does mean that some or most of the common allergens have been omitted from the product such as sulphates perfume and some colors, check the label if not sure.
Preservatives used to increase the shelf life of a product can be some of the main irritants. Put a little bit on a small patch of skin before spreading all over your face.
Don't use exfoliants on sensitive skin, even the gentlest ones are still too harsh, ditto with harsh soaps. Forget toners and astringents that contain alcohol, they are too drying. Try cleansing only at night with perhaps a splash of warm water in the mornings, over-cleansing can irritate sensitive skins.
Do you live in an extreme climate? Extreme heat or cold can take its toll on sensitive skin as can strong winds and, of course, sun exposure. Try not to go outdoors more than you absolutely have to when conditions are extreme. Always wear a sunblock with an SPF of 15 at least.
Is there anything your skin comes into contact with regularly like pillowcases or towels which could be making the problem worse? Wash these in a low irritant detergent or pure soap and rinse really well. Don't use fabric softeners as these add fragrance - see if this helps.
It is also worth having a look at your diet. Do you love spicy foods? Try cutting them out for a week or so and see if this makes any difference. If so bring them back gradually and see if the problems re occur.
Omega oils can help sensitive skin, in fact all skin types benefit from these. They can be found in fish especially oily fish like salmon. Alternatively you can buy them in capsule form if fish is not your thing. Antioxidants like vitamin C and E will improve your skin from the inside and are worth taking if your diet is less than perfect!
Its hard to find anything good to say about smoking, this is no exception! Smoking replaces the oxygen in the blood with carbon monoxide, uses up Vitamin C along with a slew of other things which are bad for the skin and bad for your health. Try cutting it down if you can't cut it out completely
I guess this advice has seemed like a litany of "do this, don't do that!" There is no simple answer to sensitive skin. Try some or all of these tips and if nothing seems to help visit a dermatologist, they are there to help.