Red, flaky, burning, itchy, skin, rashes, breakouts and dryness… sound familiar? You might be dealing with skin sensitivity. Whether you’ve been dealing with misbehaving skin for as long as you can remember, or you find yourself asking, “Why is my skin sensitive to touch all of a sudden?” the good news is, many sensitive skin causes are fairly simple to manage – you might just have to do a little detective work to find out what works for you.
What is sensitive skin?
In a nutshell, sensitive skin is overly reactive and easily irritated. Sensitive skin reacts when the nerve endings in the top layer of skin get irritated, which can happen when the skin’s natural barrier is weakened.
Skin sensitivity can make skin sore to touch, itchy and red, and may cause it to sting or burn – particularly if you’re using products on your skin that are too strong or contain ingredients that are triggers for your skin. You may also find you break out often in acne-like bumps (pustules) but still have dry skin, often develop rashes, have flaky or peeling patches of skin, or that you tend to burn easily in the sun.
Why is my skin sensitive to touch all of a sudden?
Skin sensitivity occurs when its natural barrier is broken down by certain triggers. These triggers can be all sorts of different things, from the weather to the ingredients in your makeup, and even the time of day!
Exactly what causes sensitive skin will vary from person to person and it’s always a good idea to speak to a dermatologist to find out exactly what’s causing your dermis dramas. But there are a few usual suspects to keep an eye out for when identifying your own sensitive skin causes.
What causes sensitive skin?
Environmental factors Exposure to the elements, such as the sun and wind, or extreme hot or cold temps, along with air pollution and cigarette smoke, can all be sensitive skin causes. While you can’t control the weather, you can give your skin an extra layer of protection with a gentle moisturiser (try our Super Sensitive Day + Night Cream) and remember to always wear sunscreen, rain, hail or shine. We love Satin Sheen Foundation SPF 30+ for fragrance-free protection with a hint of colour.
Lifestyle The potions and lotions you use on a daily basis – from makeup and skincare to household cleaning products – can all contribute to flare-ups and make skin sore to touch. To turn it around, start swapping the offending items for ones specially created for sensitive skin and avoiding products with fragrance and dyes.
A top-notch sensitive skincare routine will include a gentle soap-free cleanser, like our Super Sensitive Cleansing Milk, to maintain skin’s natural moisture; and rich, fragrance-free moisturisers to nourish an angry complexion. Check the labels for nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, shea butter and glycerin, ceramides and fatty acids; and avoid sulphates, physical and chemical exfoliants, and isopropyl alcohol. When it comes to makeup, choose a mineral or silicone-based foundation for the best chance of soothing your stressed skin and avoiding repeat flare-ups.
Dryness Dehydrated skin is more likely to become irritated, itchy, flaky, and scaly. Our hands, especially, can be prone to dryness and sensitivity. Restore moisture to the affected areas with a rich, thick, fragrance-free cream suitable for sensitive skin, like the One & All Intensive Hand & Nail Rescue Cream Very Dry Hands.
Genetics Some genetic conditions can make skin sore to touch. Naturally sensitive skin such as this is often linked to other inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, and while there’s not a lot (read: nothing) you can do to change your genes, you can manage it with a dermatologist’s help.
Hormones Fluctuating hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause may all trigger skin sensitivity, too. The changes in sebum production at these times can result in a weakening of the skin’s natural barrier. Be aware of this as a potential cause and consider tweaking your skincare routine in times of need. As we age, our skin naturally becomes thinner, too, and is easier to irritate.
- Time of day Did you know that our body’s natural circadian rhythms can affect our skin sensitivity? Levels of anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol drop at night, while histamines – which cause itchiness – rise, leaving you a sensitive mess come morning. Battle this by choosing breathable natural fabric for your bedsheets and your PJs.