If you experience red, dry, irritated skin, it may be because your skin is more sensitive than you think. Symptoms of sensitive skin occur in two ways: chronic (ongoing) or intermittent (occasionally). Here’s why each of these occur and how to combat them:
Chronic sensitivity tends to arise as a side effect of problematic skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema or even contact dermatitis. “With any of these conditions, the barrier of the skin is compromised so you’re more apt to experience redness, irritation and even stinging,” says New York dermatologist Elizabeth K. Hale. Those with chronically sensitive skin may not be able to tolerate certain anti-aging agents like glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids and retinols, especially prescription-strength ones.
Intermittent sensitivity appears on a case-by-case basis and is usually the effect of using products and/or ingredients that are too strong for the skin. “If you’re using retinol-either using more than a pea-sized drop of it or using it too frequently for your skin type-benzoyl peroxide, glycolic or salicylic acids or at-home microdermabrasion kits incorrectly, or if you’re over exfoliating, you may be creating an entry way for ingredients that are designed to sit on the surface of the skin, to get pushed further into the skin. When this happens there can be increased dryness, flaking, stinging and redness,” says Dr. Hale. Chemical peels that are too strong for your skin, or done too frequently, can lead to sensitivity too. In some cases, the skin can look normal but it may sting or burn when products are applied-a common symptom that the skin is experiencing a sensitivity.
To read more sensitive skin and how to treat it, pick up the new issue of NewBeauty magazine on newsstands September 27.
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