When it comes to sensitive skin, the blame is often given to skin care or household products that seem to produce burning, redness, itchiness, tightness, or breakouts. However, this is only one aspect of sensitive skin; the term “sensitive” is often misunderstood. Skin that reacts to products containing fragrances, dyes, or preservatives is considered less sensitive than skin that is naturally thinner and more prone to redness and rashes (surfaced or distended capillaries).

What type of sensitive skin are you?

Here are some of the most common causes, symptoms, and signs of skin sensitivities.

While the phrase “sensitive skin” is very broad and encompasses a wide variety of skin-related concerns, some of the most common causes of sensitive skin include:

  • Skin disorders such as rosacea or eczema
  • Allergic skin reactions related to allergic contact dermatitis
  • Overly dry or damaged skin that no longer protects nerve endings (resulting in a reaction)
  • Excessive exposure to damaging environmental factors such as sun, wind, pollution, or excessive heat/cold
  • Lesser contributing factors may include age, gender, race, or genetics

Treating sensitive skin is a tricky business, as there are so many factors and differences from person to person. A product meant for sensitive skin may work great for one person, but cause a reaction with another. This is why it is important to move past the term “sensitive” and find out what is really causing your skin to flare up.

When diagnosing sensitive skin, dermatologists often look for:

  • A tendency toward blushing/skin flushing
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Skin reactions such as bumps, pustules, blemishes, or erosion
  • Sensations such as tingling, tightening, stinging, or itchiness

The best way to diagnose sensitive skin is to seek the professional opinion of a dermatologist. Knowing the cause of your sensitive skin will help you learn how to treat, prevent, and take control of the skin you’re in.