Dealing With Skin Sensitivity

It is important for people with dry or sensitive skin to understand how to take care of it. Using the wrong soap or moisturizer can sometimes cause flare-ups that can be itchy or painful. On the other hand, using the correct cleansers and moisturizers can help calm down inflamed skin and help to reduce flare-ups.

Skin sensitivity triggers:

The following are all common triggers:

Climate changes, especially if exposed to cold winds or excessive heat
Water, especially hard water
Soaps, detergents, cleaners, bubble baths, cosmetics, perfume
Pollen, pet hair, animal dander, dust
Synthetic or wool fibres
Certain chemicals, cids, alkalis, oxidising or reducing agents, oil, solvents

Water - Good or Bad?

You would think that putting water on the skin would moisturize it more, but the opposite is true. Plain water that comes in contact with the skin evaporates and takes with it many of the skin's natural oils called natural moisturizing factor (NMF). The more often the skin has contact with water, the drier it gets unless those natural oils are replaced. But your skin has to come in contact with water when you bathe and wash your hands. Is it more important to bathe to clean the skin or avoid water to keep the skin moisturized?

The following are some guidelines to follow when it comes to water contact:

Water temperature should be tepid - hotter water takes more oils away than cooler water.
The length of contact should be short -- no long, hot showers especially if you have a flare-up.
Using antibacterial gels for hand-washing does not cause the skin to dry out because the alcohol does not bind to NMF taking them away when it evaporates.
When drying off, pat the skin dry with a towel until the skin is not dripping -- do not rub the skin vigorously.
Use a good moisturizer on the skin immediately after any contact with water.

It is essential to try and adopt a gentle skin care regime when deciding which cleansers and moisturisers to use. As everyones skin is different, and will have their own levels of tolerance to known irritants, there are some general rules you can follow to try to minimise any adverse effects on the skin:

Cleansers for Sensitive skin

The effect of soap on the skin is not good for people with skin sensitivity. Most soaps, especially bar soaps, dry the skin out. More often than not, they contain synthetic colourings and fragrances which are common irritants. Natural liquid cleansers can be much less damaging to the skin than bar soaps. Using an emollient-rich liquid cleanser that leaves a moisturizer on the skin when the soap is washed off is a better option as it is often gentler on sensitive skin.

Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin

Not only is it important to use a moisturizer often (up to three times a day), it is important to use one that does not contain perfumes or fragrances, because these are all potentially very irritating to sensitive skin.

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