Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beauty Talk: Sensitive Skin - Triggers and Causes

Sensitive skin needs special care. If you neglect it, the recurrent or on-going inflammation will result either in a more serious condition like eczema/rosacea or age you at a much quicker pace. Besides all the redness, irritation and blotchiness associated with sensitive skin can be quite uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Your first step towards balancing your skin is to avoid or minimize sensitizing factors - things that trigger and aggravate sensitivity.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures or rapid temperature changes, as well as extreme weather conditions. Very hot or very cold temperature stresses and sensitizes skin. For example, it is recommended to avoid having long hot baths, saunas, solarium etc. Example at the other end of temperature gradient is winter sport such as skiing. This will also cause sensitive skin stress and damage to the protective barrier due to the cold and wind.

  • Due to the impaired barrier function UV light is especially damaging to sensitive skin. Avoid direct and long sun exposure and protect skin from UV light at every season.

  • Bring down your stress level. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that accelerate inflammation and aging.

  • Minimize chemicals and allergens you come into contact with. Stop using fabric conditioners and softeners, air and closet fresheners. Always wash dishes in gloves. Make sure your house is well aired and clean: dust can cause allergies and related skin reactions.

  • Forget about cigarettes. Smoking not only dehydrates your skin, it also constricts capillaries, and limits oxygen and nutrients flow to the skin.

  • Skin’s beauty comes from within. That is why one of the key steps towards stabilizing your skin is reviewing and improving your diet. Exclude or at least minimize salty and spicy foods as well as alcohol and caffeine. These cause dilation and constriction of the capillary walls and will worsen sensitivity.
    However, in case with coffee, quite the opposite effect is achieved by topical application of caffeine. It produces anti-inflammatory effect and was found to actually relieve skin redness.
    Drink more water, eat more fruit and vegetables – vitamins and fiber will help to keep your skin healthy. There is no need to go into extremes, but if your sensitivity is really bad, you may consider excluding histamine containing foods: such as bananas, spinach, peas, cheese, shellfish, tinned tuna, chocolate, wine, cheese, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes etc. Histamine containing foods trigger allergic reactions. Here is more information on histamine restricted diet.

  • Finally, what comes into direct contact with your skin daily is, of course, crucially important. Review your skin care products. They should not contain sensitizing ingredients such as fragrances, colorants, retinol, alcohol etc.

    Details on ingredients to avoid and the ones to look for are coming in the next post.

    Related posts:
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  • Sensitive Skin: Triggers and Causes
  • Sensitive Skin: Soothing Ingredients
  • Sensitive Skin and Makeup
  • Beauty Review: Verite line by Estee Lauder

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