If you have sensitive skin that easily turns red, breaks out in a rash, itches or becomes tender, chances are you have allergy-prone skin. These reactions may even occur from skin care or cosmetic products you have used or certain foods. There are two main sensitive allergy-prone skin types. One type is where an ingredient is irritating your skin which may cause itching, burning or redness. When you stop using the irritating product with the specific ingredient, your skin clears up. The second type is an allergic reaction to an ingredient which causes your immune system to make antibodies to fight the allergen, which may be a plant, food or ingredient. This type sets up a chain reaction by your immune system that takes its course even after you stop using the culprit product. Discover the types of skin allergies and how to fight them with a sensitive, allergy-prone skin care routine.
Cause of Allergy-Prone Skin
The specific cause of why you have sensitive allergy-prone skin is unknown. Heredity may be one reason, or frequent use of highly irritating products and lack of proper skin care. There are certain ingredients that are most commonly determined to cause irritation and symptoms.
Common allergy producing ingredients include:
- Preservatives, such as parabens
- Sulfates, specially sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
- Botanicals, such as plant extracts and essential oils
Common Allergy-Prone Skin Conditions
If you have sensitive skin and your immune system is triggered every time to respond with a reaction to an ingredient or situation, then your have an allergic skin condition.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is common and estimated to affect one in fifty adults (American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology). With eczema, your skin can become red, very itchy, scaly, or raw with small, raised bumps. The area that it may show up the most are the folds of the elbows, backs of the knees or the front of the neck. It can last for years or even a lifetime, but the symptoms come and go, often accompanied by hay fever or asthma. There is no cure, but managing the itching can be accomplished by using non-irritating soaps, moisturizers and other skin and personal care products. If you find it difficult to sleep or to manage your daily life, see your doctor for further treatment with medicated creams and ointments.
- Hives (urticaria) occurs when your skin contacts something you're allergic to. Your skin reacts by becoming red, white or with appearance of itchy welts. These welts may last more than six weeks and may appear again over months or years (Mayo Clinic). Hives can be large or small, and appear anywhere on your body, even disappear in one area and show up in another rather quickly. It is thought thyroid disease or lupus may be the cause of hives. It's important to find the triggers, such as irritating ingredients, and avoid them.
- Contact dermatitis is localized in the area that your body contacted an irritating ingredient. It shows up with red rash that itches, or with dry patches and tenderness. Products such as soap, cosmetics, and deodorant are some of the causes.
- Seborrheic skin condition signs and symptoms (Mayo Clinic) include patchy scaling scalp, red, greasy skin with white or yellow scales. Usually affects the oily areas of the body, such as your face, and upper chest and back. It's known as cradle cap when you see it with infants.
Over-the-Counter Remedies for Sensitive Allergy-Prone Skin
With sensitive allergy-prone skin, most of the reactions last a while and get better eventually on their own. There are certain non-prescription remedies you can use to help with the symptoms:
- Hydrocortisone creams to help with itching.
- Antihistamines such as hydroxyzine to help control itching.
If the symptoms become worse or spreads, see your dermatologist or general physician.
Best Care of Sensitive Allergy-Prone Skin
The most important factor in preventing flareups of sensitive allergy-prone skin, is to manage and avoid the triggers.
- Use a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrance and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Choose one that fits your skin type, that is either for oily, dry or combination skin. Don't over wash your face, but use warm water (never hot or cold) no more than two times a day. Never rub, but pat dry with a soft towel.
- Only use fragrance-free skin care products. Fragrances contain highly irritating ingredients.
- Use a safe sensitive skin sunblock that has non-comedogenic on the label. This means it will not clog pores.
- Moisturize with skin care for your skin type that is free of salicylates. Salicylic acid is often added to skin care products for anti-aging or to control inflammation and acne. However, salicylates may irritate your skin.
- Only purchase non-irritating sensitive skin care products.
- Avoid preservatives such as parabens.
- Avoid products that contain plant extracts and essential oils.
- Live a healthy lifestyle, including nutritious meals, proper exercise and well managed stress.