With winter fast approaching, sensitive skin is even more at risk of being irritated by harsh conditions.
True sensitive skin is triggered by sun exposure, fragrances, soaps, products, the weather, chemicals, inflammatory foods, and alcoholic beverages. It takes time to find the culprit and dermatologists specialize in patch testing and may test for over 100 different substances.
Rosacea is usually a constant once it appears. It is characterized by red flushing; small, visible capillaries; watery eyes; and small inflamed bumps; but it can be controlled. Take the necessary steps to treat rosacea before it becomes severe and avoid the triggers that exacerbate it.
Sensitized skin is much easier to determine and care for. Skin becomes sensitized from being exposed to harsh, too abrasive products, such as alcohol in lotions, rough face scrubs, AHAs in cleansers and toners.
They key is to treat senitized skin gently:
Modify cleansing and skin care routines during the colder months, in dry climates, and in hard water areas. Non-foaming, sulfate-free cleansers, milder exfoliants, and fragrance-free moisturizers suited to skin type will help restore the glow to compromised skin.
Do not scrub the skin. Cleanse with only the fingertips and blot dry; never rub the face with a towel. Because so many things, including even gentle active ingredients and professional treatments, can cause superficial flaking and peeling, the temptation to speed up the process by scouring off dead skin cells can be irresistible.
Grainy scrubs, baking soda paste, sonic cleansing brushes, spa gloves, buffing pads, loofahs, washcloths, and even towel-drying can spell trouble for sensitized skin. Side effects include redness; burning; prolonged scaling; increased sun-sensitivity; a thick build-up of keratin; and an uneven, blotchy skin tone.
Attempting to scrub off flaking and thickened dead skin will backfire. The body quickly produces a thicker buildup to protect itself, just like calluses form after repeated friction from ill-fitting shoes and pedicure paddles. Once this behavior is discontinued, sensitized skin can improve dramatically.
Water intake hydrates the skin from within, improves elasticity, plumps fine lines and wrinkles, and helps achieve a healthy glow. When the skin is well-hydrated, it is easier to address dry skin, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and eczema. Caffeine, alcohol, and smoking dehydrate the skin, so it is best to cut back drastically or stop completely.
Running a cool mist humidifier at night will hydrate the skin and help counteract the drying effects of cold weather, dry climate, heaters, and air conditioners. Clean as directed to prevent fungus and bacteria growth.
Choose fragrance-free products when possible. Perfumes, mixtures of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents can be irritating to sensitized skin and very reactive in sunlight.
Do not overheat homes and avoid heat sources like hot stoves, ovens, hairdryers, fireplaces, space heaters, hot showers, and direct sun.