Sensitive Skin: How Do You Know Whether You Have It?

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When I was a student, studying in class 9, teachers taught about cells and tissues. That was the time when I came to know some facts about the skin. 

Do you know that our skin is made up of 19 million skin cells, and it makes about 15% of our total body weight? Can you imagine a single square inch of skin has about 300 sweat glands?

From that time, I was always curious to know more about skin.

Just to brief you, I am Dr Mansi Buch, a skin specialist and I work with Janvi Multispeciality Hospital. I have done specialization in the skin and qualified as M.D (D.V.D).

I see many patients coming to Janvi multispeciality hospital for rashes on the skin, red spots on the skin. People think that it is normal and will go away with time.

But as a skin specialist, I know what it means for your skin. It is medically called skin sensitivity. People confuse allergy with skin sensitivity, hence today I took time out of my busy schedule just to share with you many things about skin sensitivity.

I am not a writer, so kindly avoid typos! With so much UNWANTED information available on Google, I wanted to guide you about the ‘Truth’ behind skin sensitivity and I hope you will love the information.

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Sometimes I think that Google should show limited information about diseases…. What are your views? Do let me know. Just Google the topic ‘Skin Sensitivity’ and you will understand what I mean!

As of now let’s start with our topic for today, ‘Skin Sensitivity’.

Ready for a deep dive? It’s going to take a bit long so stay hydrated… and relax.

What is Sensitive Skin?

Before you understand what sensitive skin is, it is important to understand the structure of the skin. Don’t worry, I am not going to teach you the medical stuff!

Coming to the basics, we were taught about the different layers of the skin in schools. For those of you who wish to dive in deep, here’s the diagrammatic representation of the skin.

Just as our forefathers told us, our skin has 7 layers that help to guard our internal organs. Our skin has mainly three layers, Epidermis, Dermis and Subcutis with further subdivisions.

Our skin protects us from external factors and also retains moisture. All these processes take place in the skin’s horny layer made up of cells and lipids.

The effectiveness of these cells depends on enzyme activity. Often it is observed that enzyme activity is weaker in sensitive skins.

Any portion of the skin can be prone to sensitivity but the most affected area is generally the face.

Symptoms/Signs of Sensitive Skin

More than us, the skin specialists, it is you who can judge whether you have sensitive skin or not. This is because you come across the symptoms daily after using certain products, or due to certain environmental conditions.

You can judge whether you have sensitive skin if you observe the following signs or symptoms.

  • Reactive Skin: If your skin reacts to any household products, soaps, perfumes, and your skin feels itchy, redness or becomes too dry then it’s sensitive skin.
  • Dryness or Redness: If you observe that your skin turns red or turns dry after using certain products then it can be a symptom of sensitive skin.

At this point, it is very essential to differentiate it from an allergy. While an allergy triggers these reactions after using certain products or due to certain other factors, it is not so with sensitive skin.

If you really wish to dive in deeper, the book ‘The Sensitive Skin- Treatment Modalities and Cosmeceuticals’ written by Dr Rashmi Sarkar will be informative for you.

The difference between Sensitive, Reactive and Allergic Skin.
REACTIVE AND ALLERGIC SKIN
THEIR SIGNS, TRIGGERS AND SOLUTIONS

Skin TypeSensitive SkinReactive SkinAllergic Skin
What your dermatologist sees:Nothing, skin appears normalSlight rednessRedness, swelling, oozing, blisters…
What you feel:General discomfort: Pulling, tingling or burning sensationsBurning, pulling or tingling, mild itching, flushing sensationIntense itching
Where:Face, neck and décolletéFace, neck and décolletéFace and body
When:All the time: Symptoms are ongoingSymptoms are short-lived following internal or external triggerSymptoms occur 24-48 hours after contact with an allergen, and the rash can take several weeks to fade
Trigger factorsExternal: Pollution, temperature changes, changes in skin pH, UV exposure, unsuitable cosmetics Internal: Stress, strong emotions, hormonal changesExternal: Pollution, unsuitable cosmetics, temperature changes, wind Internal: Spicy foods, alcohol, stress, strong emotionsContact with allergens such as fragrances, preservatives and plant extracts in unsuitable cosmetics
SolutionAdopt a skincare routine adapted to sensitive skin.Avoid trigger factors as far as possible. Select skincare tested on sensitive to reactive skin and recommended by dermatologists.See an allergist he/she will determine exactly what you are allergic to and eliminate from your diet, environment, cosmetics, etc.

Sources

  • Skin flakes and peels: If you ever feel that your skin is dry and it flakes and peels then it is the right time to see a skin specialist before the problem worsens.
  • Sunburns: If your skin gets sunburns easily and you feel the burning or sting-like sensation on the skin after sitting in the sun for a while then it can be a sign of sensitive skin.

Factors responsible for Sensitive Skin

There are various factors responsible for sensitive skin. Although it won’t be possible for me to explain it in greater detail, here is a gist.

Host Factors

Ethnicity

Although we do not have any statistical data to prove this, generally we observe that skin type 1 and skin type 2 people and Asians are more prone to sensitive skin.

Age

The presence of sensitive skin is more in young patients than the old ones. You might be wondering that generally our skin wrinkles with old age, so why old people aren’t vulnerable?
This is because tactile sensitivity decreases with age so they are less prone to skin sensitivity.

Sex:

There are different studies that suggest the presence of skin sensitivity in males is due to the fabric that they use whereas in women it is due to the cosmetics.

Apart from cosmetics, another factor that affects skin sensitivity among females is hormonal imbalance.

Site of the affected body part:

As said earlier, the face is the most commonly affected body part. In a study conducted on 1039 individuals, it was observed that 77.3% of people have skin sensitivity on the face, 60.7% on the body, 56.3% on the genital skin.

The most affected area on the face is the Nasolabial fold.

Other Dermatoses:

If you have pre-existing skin conditions like dermatitis, rosacea then you have a large chance of getting sensitive skin.

Occupation:

If you are in an industry that exposes your skin to cosmetics or chemicals then you might be prone to skin sensitivity.

Environmental Factors

Pollution, extreme weather conditions like too hot or too cold can trigger skin sensitivity.

It is interesting to note in this regard, that I even found some of my patients who developed skin sensitivity due to the use of air conditioners.

Fabrics

Fabrics have their ubiquitous presence and they are the prime factor for skin sensitivity after cosmetics and environmental factors.

Not just the fabric, but even the detergents that we use for cleaning clothes are not free from chemicals and they can cause skin sensitivity.

I am a skin specialist working with Janvi Multispeciality hospital and you know what…. Skin infections take time to heal.

But more than that, writing about it takes time. I know so many things about skin that I need to restrict myself from writing it here. Anyways let’s continue….

Causes for Sensitive Skin

Dry Skin

Hormonal changes

Changes in the levels of estrogen hormone can cause your skin to become sensitive. It is typically noticed in the areas of your breast. Breasts become tender in some cases.

Lack of Sleep

A human being needs at least 7 hours of peaceful sleep to stay healthy. So lack of sleep can also be a cause of sensitive skin.

Stress

You might be thinking that all doctors list ‘stress’ as a common cause for all diseases. We, dermatologists, aren’t an exception to it.

Stress alone will not cause skin sensitivity but it will lead to other problems which will, in turn, lead to skin sensitivity.

Addictions

Addictions of any sort like caffeine, smoking, alcohol can damage your internal organs which in turn can lead to skin sensitivity.

Although much research is not done in this regard, it is very necessary that you stay away from supplements for a healthy body.

Poor Eating Habits

Have you heard the story of ‘Aladdin ka Chirag’? People today are obsessed with ‘looks’ and a false trend of ‘fitness’. Let’s learn from the magic lamp that you just need to take care of your body to let the emotions flourish.

In the magic lamp, you rub the lamp for the genie to appear…in life take care of your body, love it for the emotional health and resilience to appear!
Remember, it did not matter whether the lamp was fat or thin or ugly or beautiful!
Fit does not work if you are not fine!

Why I am stressing about emotions is because much depends on how we feel. So not only eating nutritious things but eating them with the right mindset is important.

Maybe I am going out of the way, but that is why our elders asked us to pray every single time we eat something. It carries positive vibes which are very essential to stay fit.

I think I need not elaborate more on this point. You are smart enough to understand this point

UV radiation

Well, I know you might be just skimming the content and thinking that you already know about the harmful effects of UV radiation.

But there is surely more to add to it which might be important for you. Discussing it a little later.

How Does the Sun Affect Our Skin?

I am sure you all must be feeling that the Sun is the source of Vitamin D. It is correct but as our elders say, ‘anything in excess is bad’.

We have three types of radiation from the Sun viz, UVA, UVB and UVC. We need to worry only about the first two because the Earth’s ozone layer protects us from UVC.

Frequent exposure to the sun for a long period of time for many years can lead to skin problems and even skin cancer.

So you should always wear clothing that helps you prevent direct exposure to the Sun and also use sunscreen lotion with an SPF above 30 every two hours to stay protected.

You will be surprised to know that now there are special clothes available in the market which can prevent you from the UV radiation of the Sun.

Brands like Cooliebar and Solartex have developed swimsuits that help to prevent the ultraviolet radiation of the Sun.

Places you miss when you apply sunscreen lotion

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you should apply sunscreen lotion to all parts of the body that are exposed to the Sun.(I have deliberately quoted American Academy so that you know that not just Indian dermatologists, but even the other dermatologists from all over the world are recommending the use of sunscreen lotion)

If you fail to apply the sunscreen lotion then in the long run, a longer duration of exposure can cause large problems…

Hmmmmm….

Too many ‘L’ words… I know.

Coming to the point, I have specifically observed that we miss applying sunscreen to the following parts of our body.

Ears
Scalp
Eyelids
Lips
Neck and Chest
Feet

Which tests are conducted to judge Sensitive Skin

Generally, we lookout for the symptoms and that is enough to guide us but sometimes we do patch tests or blood tests to diagnose.

For those of you who have fallen in love with your skins here is something that will interest you.

Why is a patch test essential for Sensitive Skin?

Patch tests are used to test sensitive skin. They can help to identify how your skin reacts to a particular material.

Tips for Sensitive Skin

Taking care of your skin is essential because it covers most parts of your body. The outermost layer of your skin is most prone to skin infections or sensitivity.

You should use the following health care products for your skin.

Cleaner- It helps to clean the skin thoroughly.
Moisturiser – Keeps the skin hydrated.
Scrub – Helps to replace the dead cells
Sunscreen lotion – To protect your skin from UV radiation.

Skincare ProductSkin TypeWhat It DoesExpected Results

Lotion

Cleanser

Best for dry or normal

skin type

Gently cleans without soap

or harsh ingredients, such

as sulfates.

Cleure Lotion Cleanser

gently cleans without

leaving your skin feeling

tight and itchy. Instead

your skin feels clean,

smooth and soft.

Glycerin

Face & Body Bar

For all skin

types

Glycerin conditions

as it cleans, oatmeal helps

soothe away problem

skin.

Used daily for face and body

cleansing, skin becomes

softer and smoother

with each use. Great

for the whole body.

Face & Body WashOily skin

Gently

removes impurities without

stripping the skin of natural

oils.

Your skin feels better and

clearer when you use

the right cleanser for

your sensitive skin type.

Toner

Best for oily, adult

acne-prone skin

This is the final step for

cleaning your face. Toner

helps prevent breakouts by

cleaning and closing pores.

Helps clean by gentle

exfoliation.

Cleure alcohol-free toner

leaves your skin pH balanced

for perfectly healthy and clear

complexion. It’s important

to only use alcohol-free

toner.

Facial Exfoliant

Excellent for adult

acne-prone skin, and

preventing ageing

Acne, sun damage and

ageing skin can cause the surface of your skin to

appear unhealthy and dull.

Daily or bi-weekly

exfoliation helps remove

the build-up of dead skin cells.

Cleure Exfoliating Scrub

gently removes dead cells

from the surface, leaving

your skin smooth,

radiant and healthy. This

should be an important

part of a daily skincare

routine to prevent acne,

and premature ageing

of your skin.

Facial MaskAll skin types

Kaolin clay and dead

sea mud help add vitally

nutrients to a dull complexion.

A regular at-home facial

with scrub and mask is

vital to healthy

complexion. Fruit acids help

improve skin’s resilience.

Your skin will feel refined,

soft and smooth with

regular use.

Day Cream Moisturizer

Dry, or combi-

nation skin

Moisturizer with shea

butter and antioxidants

help rebuild natural

moisture-retaining

the barrier of the skin,

damaged by the environment-

ment.

Keeping your skin

hydrated is important

for preventing ageing and

for healthy skin. Anti-

oxidants help fight

harmful free-radicals.

Oil-Free Facial LotionOily skin

Moisturizer is

important for oily skin.

The wrong type can

cause clogged pores and

breakouts.

Hydrates without oily

feel or resulting clogged

pores. Your skin feels

smooth, healthy and clear.

Night Cream

Normal to dry

skin types

Helps repair while you

sleep. Anti-oxidants

help fight free radicals.

Apply nightly and

you’ll notice repair and

rejuvenation while you

sleep.

SunscreenAll skin types

Protection from the

UV rays of the sun

is extremely important

for healthy skin.

Cleure SPF 15 and

SPF 30 help protect your

skin with zinc oxide

and titanium dioxide

without harmful

ingredients or greasy feel.

Emu OilVery dry skin

Penetrates deep to relieve

even the driest skin. Must

be purified properly and

have seal of the American

Emu Association. Has

antibacterial properties

with no side effects.

Emu oil can be used

on nail beds, feet and

any area that’s very dry.

Will not clog pores and

has no known side

effects on the skin. Excellent for

sensitive skin.

Source

When to see a Skin Specialist?

Skin conditions take a long time to heal and therefore it is very much essential that you approach a skin specialist or a qualified dermatologist before it is too late.

Final Words

I know it has been a really ‘long read’ for you but as a doctor, it was my duty to guide you and hence I explained every little thing (which you can understand) in somewhat detail. I hope you didn’t get bored.

Take care of your skin, that is what I want all of you to do.

About Dr Mansi Buch

Dr. Mansi Buch in Vadodara is a professionally qualified dermatologist, cosmetic dermato-venereologist, and hair transplant surgeon.

She works with Janvi Multispeciality hospital as a Skin Specialist. She has 2+ years of experience in the medical sector. And practising Dermatologist with an experience of 6 years.
Treatments by her include: Skin Treatment, Skin Care ClinicLaser Removal, Pimple Treatment, Acne Treatment, Scar Treatment, Dark Circles, Dark Spots Filler & Treatment, Botox Treatment, Cosmetics, Infection, Ringworm, Fungal Infection, Keloid Treatment, Skin Tag Removal, Anti-ageing Treatment, Wart Removal, Mole Removal, Fairness Treatment, Wrinkle Treatment, Hair Fall Problem, Laser Treatment, Hair Treatment, Female Dermatologist, Skin Whitening Treatment, Skin Glow Treatment, Stretch Marks, Skin Glow Treatment