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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Look as Good as You Feel

Sensitive Skin Solutions

Itching for a Way to Resolve Your Skin Problems?

-- By Leanne Beattie, Health & Beauty Writer
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Darn, it happened again! You’ve just tried a new facial cleanser, but instead of the healthy glow you had hoped for, your skin became red, itchy and irritated. With a sigh, you throw the cleanser into the drawer filled with all of your other beauty product rejects—items you can’t use because of your sensitive skin.

While dermatologists define sensitive skin as a severe reaction such as pustules, bumps and sores after using a cosmetic product, most people feel they have sensitive skin if they have mild redness, stinging, burning or tightness soon after using a particular product or if they frequently experience chapped skin or ingrown hairs. And while it is uncomfortable on its own, sensitive skin is often an indicator of a more serious skin condition, such as contact dermatitis, rosacea and eczema—conditions that your dermatologist can diagnose and help you treat.

Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that occurs when you come in direct contact with an irritant or allergen, such as soap, detergent, fragrance, nickel or other metals, and solvents or other chemicals.

A reaction may occur the first time you’re exposed to the irritant or it can develop over time as the product is used on a regular basis. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include itching, skin redness or inflammation, tenderness, localized swelling, and oozing or crusting sores.

Contact dermatitis can be treated by washing off the irritating substance with lots of water and avoiding further exposure to the substance. Topical steroid medications may reduce inflammation, but in most cases the best treatment is to simply leave the area alone. Healing usually takes place without complications within two or three weeks. Sufferers can help prevent further reactions by avoiding the irritating substance as much as possible or by wearing rubber gloves if contact is unavoidable.

Rosacea
If your skin turns red at the slightest thing and seems to overreact to emotions, temperature changes and spicy foods, you may have a condition called rosacea. Rosacea is also a likely possibility if you have visible blood vessels on the face and permanent skin redness.

Rosacea must be treated by a dermatologist. Your doctor may prescribe prescription creams or perform laser therapy to reduce redness. Lifestyle changes (reducing stress and avoiding extreme temperature fluctuations, spicy foods and intense exercise) can also improve the appearance of rosacea. Wearing proper sun protection at all times is a must for rosacea sufferers.

Eczema
Do you have red, flaky patches on your elbows that never go away? If so, eczema may be the culprit. Eczema occurs when the outermost layer of the skin is stripped away. This allows moisture to escape and allergens to come in. Patches of eczema commonly show up on the knees, elbows, and tops of the feet, between toes, and on the hands, face and scalp.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • Thanks - 6/2/2013 9:47:49 PM
  • My mom had rosacea and was in a flare when I moved her in with me. I found a cream that worked wonders, but it is a local product. It is a lavender body butter with hydrosol in it. It is completely natural and contains no chemicals. I love it for myself too! It actually helps to prevent blistering if I burn myself. The lavender oil is a natural antiseptic and anti-fungal. I buy bottles of hydrosol to use on my pets to help with fleas and itchy skin. It is also really nice in the summer. Not only does it help me feel cooler, but it keeps the mosquitos away from me! - 10/7/2012 12:15:24 PM
  • This was a very informative article. Unfortunately, several people in my family have several different types of skin problems and allergies. :(

    My older sister has rosacea and Vitiligo. By her own description, she looks like a drunk raccoon when she isn't wearing make-up. She has a circle of no pigmentation around her eyes but her lower cheeks and nose are red from the rosacea. She also has no pigment on most of her hand and the tops of her feet. She is also severely allergic to latex.

    My twin brother also has vitiligo and several other skin allergies. He won't follow through with the treatments so the other conditions won't go away.

    My daughter has contact dermatitis and is allergic to most types of antibiotics.

    I also have rosacea, contact dermatitis and a latex allergy. I'm so sensitive to latex that I can smell it if it's the same room as me and start to get choked up. I'm also wondering what types of "affordable" treatments people have done for rosacea? I've tried all the over the counter stuff and one prescribed med and nothing has really made any difference. I don't drink or eat spicy foods. - 6/9/2011 4:29:29 AM
  • I'd like to see more article concerning women of color (Latina, African American, etc) since these types tend to react differently from mainstream written skin. - 7/6/2010 5:42:54 PM
  • Avoiding intense exercise (e.g.: running et al) may be "helpful" for minimizing rosacea flare-ups, but telling a person not to engage in otherwise very healthful bodily fitness activities to avoid a red face seems like a very cruel no-win situation. There MUST be other solutions, somewhere. - 7/4/2010 8:16:25 PM
  • Poor diet can also aggravate aczema. I had really persistent patches of eczema on my forearms and hands. When I started eating a healthy, balanced diet they cleared - something they failed to do even with the strongest steroid creams. I can tell when my diet is starting to take a turn for the worse - I can fool myself about it but my skin will tell me otherwise. I correct my eating and it clears within a week. - 6/9/2010 6:32:19 AM
  • I have had eczema my whole life and in late 30s developed spots on my face of Rosacea, hard to keep the two separate as one cream only works for one condition. I hate prednisone, call it the nasty pill and back on it now after having first flareup since being clear back in Dec of 08. - 6/5/2010 11:47:28 PM
  • after years of vague symptoms, it became quite "clear" that I was a rosacean. Rx for MetroGel and IPL laser tx seem to be helping. Oh and quitting the drink was most important. - 5/2/2010 11:31:03 PM
  • I worked in the disposible glove industry for years. Latex gloves are horrible for creating many symptoms. Like when you go to the Dentist: do you ever get tiny blisters in your mouth after a cleaning, well, that could be from the latex in the gloves, so ask them to use Nitrile. And if you think Nitril egloves are fine, think again, there are accelerants in all gloves, be it Vinyl, Nitrile, Butadene, you just have to make sure you know the symptoms to be able to extract what the true cause is. People as well don't realize that mattresses, blankets, pillows, underwear (its in the elastic around the waist and leg section), bras, clothing, socks, everything can have latex in it so if you tend to break out in rashes, you might want to take a look in your closet. It may not be the detergent, but the latex itself. I used to have to deal with many peeling hands during my time selling gloves and there are not alot of alternatives. I feel bad for anyone in the health industry. Great topic in the forum and thank you. - 4/28/2010 12:40:52 PM
  • NANABABY5
    Good article thankyou! I have sensitive skin too, and stay away with products with perfumes for sure...!! - 1/29/2010 10:09:21 AM
  • thanks for the info! - 8/8/2009 7:55:19 AM
  • Awesome Info...I have had Rosacea for sometime now and refuse to take any meds. I did see a dermatoligist who recommended topical and other but decided to just find out my triggers and switched to Clinique make-up and Aveeno products as well and I rarely show any redness except when I have some wine! Oh, well, No one can take that away from me!!! - 6/23/2009 3:51:33 PM
  • according to my Dermatologist I have Rosacea. I had some broken blood vessels, one on my nose drove me crazy. They used a laser to remove them, I used a cream to numb it before hand, I think it's lidocain, about an hour before the procedure... it felt like having a rubber band snapped on my face over and over again...I was very excited to have this done so the minimal pain was worth it. Right afterwards my face was bright red, but it calmed down pretty fast. The zapped parts turned into very fine scabs and flaked away. - 6/20/2009 1:37:40 PM
  • I thought this was from getting older. I now think it is exercise. I have 3 tiny broken blood vessels and some rosacea. I cover it up with concealer, bit now I will make an appointment with my dermatologist. It could not hurt and perhaps some laser might be appropriate? Thank you for the article. - 6/7/2009 3:53:46 PM
  • AIDELADE27
    Wow. I never knew about rosacea before. I went to my dermatologist years ago and he said that the flaky skin on my upper arms is caused by eczema and will go away after puberty. It's after puberty and it's still there. I think I have rosacea on my face because I have all the symptoms for years. Thanks for the info! - 4/3/2009 6:46:21 PM