What are the characteristics of sensitive, fragile, reactive, atopic skin?

The skin is our first defence to fight against external aggressions. Sensitive skin requires more precautions and care to be able to perform its mission effectively. The symptoms and causes are not the same depending on whether you have fragile, allergic, reactive or atopic skin. In all cases, you must take care of it to reduce the reactions that cause inconvenience to you on a daily basis.

What is sensitive skin ?

Sensitive skin is characterised by inappropriate reactions upon exposure to external elements, such as cold, heat, wind, sun, but also creams or household products. Pollution, heating, air conditioning, hard water, as well as food are other aggravating factors.

This sensitivity is independent of your skin type (oily, dry or mixed) and the reactions are diverse, with redness, inflammation, itching, plaques, tightness, etc.

Women are more affected than men, especially since the hormonal disorders they face in their lifetimes are not neutral. Puberty, pregnancy and menopause can cause an exacerbated reactivity of the skin, temporary or lasting.

How to explain the phenomenon of sensitive skin?

Our skin constitutes a barrier whose role is twofold. It keeps the epidermis in good health by retaining water and thus preventing dehydration, and it protects it from external aggressions. When this skin barrier is damaged, it becomes permeable and exposes the skin to harmful elements.

This sensitivity may be due to a pathological dysfunction, such as eczema, or to the reaction to an environmental factor which takes several forms:

  • climatic hazards: rain, wind, dry air, etc.
  • food allergies
  • strong emotions
  • irritation from rubbing clothes
  • exposure to the sun
  • reaction to cosmetic products
  • reaction to household products, etc.

How to define and recognise sensitive skin?

Diagnosing sensitive skin can be risky because it does not necessarily show easily identifiable clinical signs. The symptoms are not always visible. Indeed, while redness and pimples provide undeniable proof, itchy or tight skin is only defined by the person who suffers from it. It is the recurring feeling of discomfort with certain factors that defines this sensitivity.

Only a thorough examination by a dermatologist will allow a more precise diagnosis to be made. He performs skin tests and checks for allergies to determine the threshold for irritability of the skin, as well as the factors that trigger these reactions.

Distinguish sensitive, fragile, atopic, reactive or allergic skin

The concept of sensitive skin corresponds to skin hyperactivity which can result from various elements. The common point is the same - the skin is fragile - but not always for the same reasons.

Allergic skin

Allergies depend on a phenomenon of immunological failure. Hypersensitivity is triggered by an allergen which leads to a skin reaction. It can result from the use of a cosmetic or from contact with a chemical, such as a household product. It can also come from food. The reaction may be instantaneous or not appear until a few hours later.

Symptoms can take various forms: pimples, erythema (congestive redness of the skin), scabs, desquamation (the skin peels), etc. They are not always limited to the site of application of the allergen and may spread over a larger area.

If you notice an allergy to any product, you should immediately stop using it. If your skin is slow to heal, it is recommended that you consult a dermatologist. He will prescribe the appropriate treatment and carry out an allergological examination which will allow you to identify the nature of the allergen if you have not been able to identify it precisely.

Reactive skin

Skin is considered reactive when its sensitivity is exacerbated by non-immunological factors. The stimuli that trigger the reactions are multiple and are linked to two factors:

1.environmental: sun, pollution, cold, etc.

2. internal: intense emotions, stress, etc.

The first signs of reactive skin are subjective. They cause discomfort with tingling, tingling, or tightness, but do not cause pimples or obvious signs of tenderness. However, with time and repetitions, physical symptoms may appear, with persistent erythema and visible dermatosis.

Atopic skin

Atopic skin becomes dry and irritated. It causes atopic dermatitis which causes red patches, sometimes covered with vesicles (blisters) causing intense itching. This phenomenon can start in early childhood and turns into eczema flare-ups. In addition, it can trigger other allergies which manifest themselves as asthma, conjunctivitis or rhinitis.

Dermatitis is not contagious, but this chronic disease causes pain, insomnia and can interfere with social relationships due to unsightly manifestations.

Atopy develops on a favorable genetic ground and generates a vicious circle. As the skin becomes permeable, it allows bacteria and allergens to penetrate, which causes inflammatory reactions. These could be external factors, such as cat or horse hair, or internal ones, such as food allergies due to eggs or milk. Sweating is one of the aggravating factors.

In this case, consulting a dermatologist is essential.

How to care for your sensitive skin ?

The origins of sensitive skin are diverse, but there are common behaviours to counteract this hyperresponsiveness. To start with, preserving your skin involves using natural products, not chemical cosmetics, which make it more sensitive.

You should not multiply the products to treat your skin, but on the contrary reduce them to the strict minimum, using organic products, without unnecessary additives, such as dyes or chemical fragrances.

Restorative creams contain anti bacterial, anti-inflammatory, as well as zinc and copper supplements. If the repeated redness has ended up creating rosacea, only laser treatment at a dermatologist will repair your damaged capillary blood vessels.

Use organic cleansing milks, ultra-rich soaps and dermatological bars. Then apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer. In case of reaction, try to find a special soothing treatment for sensitive skin and an anti-redness cream that will help your skin to heal. What is important is to reduce the number of cosmetics you use; when you've found the right one for you and restores the right balance to your skin, don't change it.

Avoid peels, exfoliating masks and other scrubs that attack and irritate the skin.

Test the water from your tap that you use to wash yourself. If it is particularly chalky, a water softener will allow you to reduce the phenomena of drought caused by lime.

Food for a strengthened skin

You can strengthen your skin with the right nutrition. Essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 9, are strongly recommended. They repair the tightness of the skin that is lacking in case of sensitivity. You find them in fish, nuts or rapeseed oil.

As with cosmetics, choose the most natural products possible. Avoid industrial dishes that are full of bad fats, flavour enhancers, preservatives, colorings, etc.

If you have sensitive skin, you need to determine the triggers to avoid them, and take care of your skin with natural products.

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