Without guidance, managing hypersensitive skin can feel near impossible. However, the reality is that it isn’t. By gaining an understanding of what hypersensitive skin is, as well as by identifying your skin’s unique needs and sensitivities, you can treat your skin with ease.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
Sensitive skin is generally accepted to be a genetic skin type. There are five skin types — sensitive, dry, oily, combination, and normal — all assigned by your genes, though often affected or altered over time by external and internal factors.
There are several different features about your skin that, in combination with each other, will determine whether your skin type is sensitive such as the water content, which will influence the skin’s elasticity, the oil content, which will influence the skin’s texture, and the skin’s overall sensitivity level, which influences how it reacts to different substances and materials.
To identify whether you have sensitive skin without the analysis of a dermatologist, you can examine your skin’s characteristics and determine whether it fits into the sensitive category.
Sensitive skin is more vulnerable to external irritants than any other skin type. If you observe that your skin is often red, burning, or itching or reacting poorly to certain fragrances, materials, and dyes, your skin type is likely sensitive.
Another method for determining whether your skin is sensitive is to clean your face in the morning with an effective cleanser and then go about your day as you typically would, concluding it by standing in front of a mirror and analyzing your face’s characteristics.
If you are looking to expedite the process, you can perform a shortened, 30-minute version of this test. Wash your face, pat it dry, and then wait 30 minutes to observe how your skin behaves after a cleaning.
At the end of the day, or after thirty minutes have passed, if you observe that your skin looks red and feels itchy, it is likely that your skin type is sensitive.
What Is Hypersensitive Skin?
As its prefix suggests, hypersensitive skin is simply skin that is even more sensitive than what we have already described.
The symptoms of hypersensitive skin include tightness, itchiness, burning, rashing, redness, and breakouts. There are various factors and irritants that can trigger these symptoms. Treating hypersensitive skin typically involves following the same methods as treating sensitive skin but to an even greater extent.
When one has a fragrance sensitivity, their skin becomes irritated by chemicals in manufactured scents and some natural scents. A survey conducted in the United States found that approximately 30 percent of the population has experienced irritation from fragrance products like perfume. Often such products will contain unlisted chemicals harmful to the skin.
With hypersensitive skin, a fragrance may result in such symptoms as rashing, itching, redness, and headaches. Essentially, your body will attempt to rid itself of the harmful irritants but will not necessarily trigger a body-wide immune-system response.
This is more common in severe cases like fragrance allergies. If your hypersensitive skin is allergic to a certain fragrance, your body will identify the ingredient as a foreign substance and release an inflammatory response to fight the invader off.
This response can last a few days, while symptoms can stay around for weeks. These symptoms include blisters, hives, burning, itching, and red, scaly patches of skin.
When handling allergic reactions, it is always best to consult with a physician for professional assistance. As for mild symptoms resulting from fragrance sensitivities, however, there are a few treatment options available.
For example, over-the-counter oral medications can be used to help with itchiness and stuffiness like loratadine or diphenhydramine. Additionally, there are topical corticosteroid creams that can be used to treat rashing.
You can also try a non-medicated moisturizer to soothe your symptoms. It is best that you try a clean and gentle moisturizer so that it does not trigger a secondary reaction on your hypersensitive skin.
For this we recommend MadeMan’s,The Refresher. Unlike other moisturizers filled with harsh chemicals that you can’t even pronounce, The Refresher is water-based and uses natural ingredients.
In case you have sensitivities to certain natural ingredients, you can review the full list of ingredients here.
For a completely natural solution, try taking an oatmeal bath to soothe your inflamed skin. Oatmeal contains moisture-retaining and anti-inflammatory properties and is known to be gentle on even sensitive skin.
Try putting 4 ounces of colloidal oatmeal in your warm bath and add more as needed. It is best that you use colloidal oatmeal as it is all-natural and finely ground, minimizing the chances of clogging in your drain.
Regardless of what treatment options you opt for, the most effective solution is to avoid the substance that caused your symptoms from that point on. For those with hypersensitive skin, it may be safest to avoid using products with added fragrances and only use scent-free products.
As for allergies, you do have the option of receiving contact allergen testing from a doctor or allergist to determine your specific allergic triggers ahead of time and avoid those ingredients.
It is possible for every skin type to be negatively affected by harsh weather conditions. For those with hypersensitive skin, it can be even worse.
One of the first instances of this is sensitivities to the sun. For those with sensitive skin, especially those dealing with symptoms like rashing and dryness, unprotected exposure to the sun can be very dangerous.
To prevent such damage, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning. This means that it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays which prevent serious and surface-level damage. Additionally, your sunscreen must have an SPF of at least 30.
Apply your sunscreen every day, even when it is overcast or when you plan to spend your day indoors and consider wearing sun-protective clothing when you know that you will be out in the sun for long periods of time. Otherwise, remember to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day as needed.
Wear Protective Clothing
Shifting seasons, cold days can pose separate dangers for hypersensitive skin. For example, the heavy winds that often accompany the fall and winter do tend to irritate the skin and exacerbate existing symptoms.
Wearing protective clothing like scarves, jackets, and tops with collars can help to protect your face from the frigid air and winds while outdoors, ideally avoiding redness, rashing, and dryness.
A common solution for the cold is to use an indoor heating system. Unfortunately, this method for staying warm can cause problems for the skin or aggravate pre-existing symptoms.
Invest In a Humidifier
The warm air expelled by heating systems is often dry and lacking in humidity. This can cause sensitive skin to become rough and decrease in elasticity, as well as for its protective barrier to weaken. Additionally, because the air has low levels of humidity, it will attempt to draw out moisture from other sources, including your skin.
Instead of shutting off your heater and staying cold, you can consider investing in a humidifier. A humidifier will release humidity into the air, preventing it from stealing moisture from your sensitive skin. Additionally, it will keep the air from getting too dry.
Moderating your body temperature while staying in the heated air can also help with triggering negative reactions from your hypersensitive skin. Simple ways of doing so include drinking cold beverages and taking breaks in the fresh air.
Another major cause of flare-ups for hypersensitive skin concerns one’s diet. Inflammatory foods and beverages are a common cause of breakouts. One of the best ways for those with sensitive skin to avoid these adverse effects is to exclude inflammatory ingredients from your diet or to consume them in moderation.
Avoiding too many sweets, desserts, sodas, and fruit drinks can help with preventing chronic inflammation. Beware of labels that list corn syrup, fructose, and dextrose as ingredients.
For sugar substitutes, try natural sweeteners like honey and stevia. Note that while fresh fruit contains sugar, it is natural and contains additional necessary health benefits.
Skip The Alcohol
Consistently consuming high levels of alcohol has been known to cause irritation and persistent systemic inflammation. Try cutting back on beers, wines, liquors, and ciders.
For alcohol substitutes, try ordering sparkling water, seltzers, sugar-free sodas with lime or fresh fruit, or the virgin version of your favorite drink.
Leave The Dairy
Dairy products are amongst the most common allergens. For those that are lactose intolerant, it is best to avoid products like milk, butter, and cheese that can trigger inflammatory responses like rashes, hives, and acne.
Try coconut, almond, or oat milk for dairy substitutes, and consider sampling the many vegan versions of dairy products currently on the market.
Incorporate Whole Foods
Maintaining a healthy diet can support your overall wellness while incorporating wholesome ingredients into your meals can assist with funding and strengthening your skin.
Try incorporating more antioxidants found in foods like blueberries, red beans, artichokes, omega-3 fatty acids, in foods like salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and vitamins such as vitamin C found in foods like peppers, potatoes, and strawberries.
Maintaining a healthy diet filled with vitamins and nutrients can support your skin’s overall wellness. Incorporating healthy ingredients into your meals can make a positive change in strengthening your skin’s ability to ward off unwanted conditions.
If you find it challenging to remove unhealthy items from your diet, you can try countering the unwanted effects of processed foods with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins.
Antioxidants can be found in blueberries, artichokes, and red beans. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts. Vitamin A can be found in eggs, milk, and the liver. Vitamin C can be found in peppers, strawberries, and potatoes.
In conclusion, hypersensitive skin can be tricky to navigate at first. But with time and self-discipline, it is quite manageable. Being conscious of what your skin reacts poorly to, avoiding those substances, and then doing what you can to strengthen your skin’s health should be enough to keep you safe.
Anti-inflammatory Diets | PubMed
Sunscreen Application, Safety, and Sun Protection: The Evidence | PubMed
Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population | PubMed