Sensitive skin can be a pain…literally. It can be finicky. One minute it’s fine; the next it’s red, irritated, and painful…but take heart. You can control this and even improve it. Your daily routine plays a big role, and by making a few different choices, your skin will be more balanced and far less cranky. Here’s how:
- Choose the right cleanser. If you’re using antibacterial gel or bar soap, your skin may rebel thanks to either a hefty dose of alcohol or a high pH level. In “The Relationship of Proper Skin Cleansing to Pathophysiology, Clinical Benefits, and the Concomitant Use of Prescription Topical Therapies in Patients with Acne” by Jacquelyn Levin, DO “True soap has been shown to decrease [barrier function], dehydrate skin, and cause irritation.” So, choose a product formulated especially for sensitive skin, with words like “gentle,” “sensitive,” or “fragrance free” on the label. Dr. J recommends Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
- Control your temperature. Sensitive skin’s best friend is lukewarm water. Too cold, and it’ll shock your pores closed and prevent effective cleansing. Turn the dial too far the other way, and you’ll end up with over-dried skin. Plus, if your skin is already irritated, the hot water will aggravate it even further. This advice applies to showers, baths, and hand washing as well.
- Moisturizer! You may be hesitant about applying moisturizer to your sensitive skin because of concerns that it will make matters worse. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Using the right moisturizer, something without any added fragrance that’s also lightweight, will not only soothe your skin on contact, but it will also strengthen it over time, which prevents potential irritants from aggravating it.
- Learn to be patient. This can be tough, especially when you’re rushing to work or school, but hear us out. If you’re using any type of topical prescription product, it comes with its own risk of irritation. One of the best ways to decrease that likelihood is to make sure your skin is thoroughly dry before you use your prescription because damp skin acts like a sponge, and active ingredients absorb much faster, which can increase the potential for dryness, itchiness, and redness.
- Get better results by doing less. Sensitive skin can’t handle anything excessive, including exfoliating and cleansing. If you’re washing too often you “risk inducing skin barrier impairment,” which means damaging your skin’s ability to hold in moisture and fight off irritants (“Efficacy of the combined use of a facial cleanser and moisturizers for the care of mild acne patients with sensitive skin” by Kenichi Isoda, etc.)
Lastly, and this goes for everyone, always use an SPF 30+ daily. Even if it is not sunny your skin is still affected the UV.
If you have questions or concerns about products that may be making your skin more sensitive, feel free to email one of our friendly medical team members. We’ll respond right away.