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If you have sensitive skin, you'll know all about the difficulties of trying to manage it. You've spent your days scrutinising the labels of lotions and potions various, avoiding harsh sunlight, and fluctuating from excessive dryness to complete and utter oil overload.
So what really is going on beneath the surface that is causing such irritation? Why is my skin that much more delicate than everyone else's? From a dermatological point of view, what actually am I dealing with here?
Understanding your skin from within...
Sensitive skin is, essentially, hypersensitivity to chemicals and/or external stimulus. It is hard to pinpoint it's exact origin, as causes and triggers vary from person to person. The only consistent trait being an innate sensitivity, and visible symptoms which can range from pustule breakouts, skin bumps, or skin erosion; to redness and flushing, stinging, or flaking of the skin.
Sufferers tend to find their skin to be reactive to such things as hot or cold weather, low humidity in the air and/or harsh skin care products. On some occasions, sensitive skin can be a natural response to an allergy or intolerance. As a result, sensitive skin may indicate that the person suffers with another condition - such as contact dermatitis. Lactose, for example, is a common irritant for those suffering with undiagnosed Rosacea.
Typically, these skin reactions are because of irritated nerve endings on the epidermis (the very top layer of skin). When the natural barrier has been weakened - perhaps from a very drying cleanser or sharp winter winds - the skin cannot adequately protect the nerve endings. This is what leads to the tell-tale stinging, burning and itching sensation.
Sensitive Skin is exceptionally common. As a matter of fact, it is an affliction which can be found in approximately 50% of the entire population. While reactive skin may be a little difficult to work with, it can be perfectly-well managed if only you know what to do..
Those with sensitive skin may want to be especially stringent with their hygiene by making sure everything that comes into contact with the skin is properly cleaned before use. This is because irritation can be caused by things as seemingly insignificant as unwashed pillowcases and makeup brushes containing debris and bacteria.
If you would like to discover which particular triggers cause you the most irritation, reaction tests can be conducted at specialised allergen clinics. These tests involve making small pinpricks in the skin and purposefully bringing the skin into contact with a selection known/typical allergens.
With a wealth of treatments, designed just for you...
An attentive and consistent skincare regime is your best defence against sensitive skin. This, of course, begins at home with a daily routine of cleansing and moisturising using specially formulated, gentle products which do not contain harsh or abrasive chemicals. This means that sufferers should be wary of the contents of everything from cleansers and soaps to moisturisers and cosmetics.
As a general rule of thumb, sensitive skin should attempt to avoid products containing: excessive perfume or fragrance, antibacterial or deodorant ingredients, alcohol, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). Many Harley Street Skin facials are tailored to soothe sensitive skin, whilst also removing the surface debris which can lead to visible irritation. Incorporating facials into your routine every few 4-6 weeks can visibly ease the complaint and prevent symptoms such as breakouts and redness. In addition to this, sufferers typically find that swapping heavy cosmetics for mineral-based cosmetics improves symptoms which can be aggravated by chemical dyes, oils and fragrances that are added found in many non-mineral brands.
Whatever your sensitive skin concerns, you can book in for a free of charge consultation to assess your skin, in depth, with a professional.Make sure to ask about our VISIA analysis tool - a digital device for taking high quality images under the microscope!
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