Sensitive or Sensitised?

Millions of people perceive their skin as sensitive whereas in reality there is sensitive skin (a genetic trait) and there is sensitised skin, which is caused by stress, pollution and chemicals.

If you have sensitive skin by genetic predisposition you’ll tend to be prone to the so-called atopic triangle, blushing, asthma and allergies. Sensitive skin often has a reduced protective outer layer (epidermal lipid barrier layer) thus allowing irritants, microbes and allergens to penetrate and cause adverse reactions. This links to several inflammatory skin diseases such as rosacea, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema.

A sensitised skin by contrast is a reflection of your environment and lifestyle. Pollution, stress, smoking, poor diet, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations and over-exfoliated skin can all lead to sensitization.

Lifestyle changes are extremely important to promoting healthy skin, for example minimising sun exposure and reducing stress levels. If sensitised skin is left untreated it can result in more serious conditions. Both, sensitive and sensitised skin has a lower pain threshold with something as harmless as water can result in stinging, burning or redness.

The body’s immune system helps protect it from disease and it works together to fight against infection. When the body is injured it responds with inflammation, which is characterised as a cascade of biological events involving the vascular system, immune system and cells in the injured tissue. White blood cells attack invaders such as bacteria and viruses and this results in the pain, redness and heat associated with inflammation and sensitive skin.

To protect your skin against environmental aggressors it’s essential to maintain its lipid barrier, which can be compromised and dehydrated by strong products and over-exfoliation.  A healthy balanced diet plus products containing ceramides and fatty acids can help. Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming range was developed for sensitive and sensitised skin. It contains oils of evening primrose, borage seed and oat kernel, which provide essential fatty acids, and with the oat has natural anti-oxidant and anti-irritant properties to help soothe irritated skin. Sunflower provides natural ceramides to help minimise dehydration. All Dermalogica products are free of S.D.alcohol, artifical fragrances, colours and lanolin, so providing relief for both sensitive and sensitised skin.

By Mandy Oxley Swan

Beauty Manager, Shine, Church Street

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