Sensitive skin can take many forms. You can simply get irritation on occasion or experience serious outbreaks of eczema with severe itching, redness, and even bleeding. Sometime it’s difficult to identify triggers and reasons, such as genetics and seasonal affects that can bring about flare-ups. Yet, there are things you can avoid to minimize irritating your sensitive skin. First and foremost though, you should visit your dermatologist to see if there is any underlying medical cause for your skin issue.
Avoid scented laundry products. While everyone loves the smell of clean laundry, for those with sensitive skin, fresh-smelling laundry detergent can cause irritation from a little itching to a full-out burn. Recent research in the UK found that encapsulated enzymes that help biodegradability and cleaning effectiveness at lower water temperature actually don’t cause allergies. However, they can be irritants for people with sensitive skin. Look for detergent and dryer sheets that are free of dyes and fragrance. As a side benefit, these types of products are often better for our envoirnment. Other triggers to avoid when it comes to clothes are brand-new clothes that haven’t been washed (especially those that are heavy with dyes). New clothes may contain formaldehyde or other chemicals. Natural fibers such as 100 percent wool can also cause sensitive skin to revolt.
Perfumes, bath bubbles, scented lotions. When in doubt, read the ingredients on your cleaners and soaps, and keep it simple. Cetaphil or Dove are great all over body cleansers if you have sensitive skin. Also, Aveeno products and baby products for sensitive skin are also safe products. Avoid using spray perfumes and body splashes; instead consider using natural oils. Evening primrose oil not only smells good, but research out of Calcutta National Medical College last year saw that it may help sooth those suffering from skin rash and irritation.
Prolonged exposure to water. This one is a little counterintuitive. It would seem as though moisture would be a good thing; but, too much water from a long bath or swim can cause skin flare-ups. Take a short bath using only Cetaphil as a cleanser. And keep the temperature lukewarm—high temperatures and sudden changes in temperature can exacerbate or trigger eczema flare-ups.
Reduce stress. Higher incidences of eczema and rosacea are seen when the sufferer is under stress. Introduce a relaxation technique into your daily life, such as meditation, yoga, or just walking to generally reduce your reaction to stress. With increased physical activity, be careful about sweating too much as that is seen to irritate sensitive skin, too.
If you do have a prolonged, unexplained rash or irritation, it’s always best to visit your doctor. Some forms of eczema, like atopic dermatitis, may require prescription creams and medications.
Dr. Schweiger is a Board Certified dermatologist in private practice in Manhattan. He practices cosmetic and general dermatology, with a particular focus on laser and light-based treatments at http://www.nyccosmeticdermatology.com/.
He is a HealthGrades Recognized Doctor.