What does it mean to have sensitive skin? For many, this overarching, and often vague, term can mean a number of things and cause some confusion. You may have asked, “Are there different types of sensitive skin?”, “Should everyone with sensitive use the same products?” The answers are that there are different types of sensitive skin, that only a dermatologist can confirm if you do have sensitive skin, and that only your doctor can determine which types of products are best to help your skin reach optimal health.
There are many skin conditions that can include aspects of sensitive skin — acne, rosacea and contact dermatitis (due to allergies and irritants) — and they all have one characteristic in common: inflammation1. To determine which type of sensitive skin you have, your skin care physician looks at several indicators, including the following conditions2:
Skin reactions such as pustules, skin bumps, or skin erosion
Very dry skin which doesn’t properly protect nerve endings in the skin
A tendency toward blushing and skin flushing
In addition to a number of skin reactions that signify sensitive skin, there are also a number of contributors. Causes of sensitive skin include1:
Skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis
Overly dry or injured skin that can no longer protect nerve endings, leading to skin reactions
Excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors such as sun and wind, or excessive heat or cold
Genetic factors, age, gender, and race differences in skin sensitivity are less well-defined but still may play a role in the severity of skin reactions
Each sensitive skin concern has its own treatment. That’s why working with a professional to determine which type of sensitive skin you have is so important. As you and your skin care physician work to address your sensitive skin, there are certain ingredients you should be aware of that can help calm sensitive skin and some ingredients you should avoid.
Sensitive skin care DOs:
Use Kinetin and Zeatin essential plant-derived growth factors found in our Gentle Rejuvenation System*, which is specifically designed for those with sensitive skin. Kinetin and Zeatin are proven to gently, yet effectively, improve skin’s appearance.
Use natural ingredients such as oatmeal to protect and soothe contact dermatitis; and other calming ingredients including licorice extract, caffeine, chamomile for rosacea1.
Sensitive skin care DON’Ts:
Avoid scents. Added fragrances can irritate the skin.
Avoid self-medicating. A helpful ingredient for one type of sensitivity may irritate another. Ensure you know which type of sensitive skin you have before using any of the suggested ingredients to treat your condition.
The first step in dealing with your sensitive skin is to visit your skin care physician. Obagi recently introduced the Gentle Rejuvenation System, our first system specifically designed for sensitive skin. Packed with gentle yet powerful ingredients, including Kinetin and Zeatin, the Gentle Rejuvenation System contains essential products to cleanse, calm, correct, and protect sensitive skin – ask your physician if it’s right for you.
In addition to a skin care regimen designed to treat your sensitive skin, be sure that you are using non-irritating cosmetics, protecting your skin against harsh elements, especially the sun, and avoiding foods or fabrics that may further irritate your skin.
References: 1. Sensitive Skin. American Academy of Dermatology Website. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/s… 2. 20 Common Questions About Sensitive Skin. WebMD Website. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sensitive-skin-20-questions