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Skin Care Tips for Sensitive Skin Types (Sensitive Skin)
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Skin Care Tips for Sensitive Skin Types

Richard Thomas, MD, FRCPC

Over half of Canadian women have sensitive skin, and of those with sensitive skin, close to half have dry skin. If your skin is easily irritated, prone to drying or allergic reactions, or react adversely to temperature changes or pollution, you likely have sensitive skin. Other common symptoms include reactions to shaving or other physical pressure, overreaction to cosmetics, or a tingling sensation on the skin without the presence of rashes or other physical signs. Sensitive skin affects the facial areas most commonly, but can include other areas of the body. Both genetics and environmental factors contribute to sensitive skin.

Be aware that the symptoms of sensitive skin can obscure other skin conditions with similar symptoms:

Allergic contact dermatitis: The sudden appearance of redness, swelling, or itchiness. These conditions are in response to contact with an allergen.

Atopic dermatitis: Related to asthma, eczema appears on skin that is dry and itchy.

Rosacea: Enlarged blood vessels of the facial region resulting in general redness of the skin.

Other: Any alterations to the skin resulting from general trauma such as shaving, waxing, chemical peels, temperature changes, or contact with medication or pollution.

If you are unsure, visit your dermatologist to determine if you have any of these skin conditions.

For treating sensitive skin, remember that this is a skin type, and not a condition, and as such, constant and ongoing skin care will be required.

Here are some helpful skincare tips for those with sensitive skin:

  • Use mild and soap-free cleansers, as these can become irritants, and rinse well after use.
  • Use sunscreens and moisturizers that are designed for sensitive skin.
  • Choose oil-free products if you use foundations, as these will not clog the pores.
  • Manage stress as too much stress can lead to a decrease of immunological defences.
  • Use products with salicylic acids to help skin maintenance.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Perfumed or scented cosmetics. These are common irritants, and especially for those with sensitive skin.
  • Extremely hot or cold water. Tepid or warm water should be used for washing.
  • Spicy foods, caffeine, or alcohol can all trigger skin reactions.
  • Exfoliants can also irritate sensitive skin.
  • Sudden temperature changes don’t give the skin proper time to react by producing more or less oil, resulting in irritation.

Taking these few extra precautions can save your sensitive skin a lot of aggravation.


allergies,   atopic dermatitis,   chemical peels,   contact dermatitis,   rosacea,   sensitive skin,