20 Common Questions About Sensitive Skin
9. With an unfamiliar skin care product, how should I test for a sensitive skin reaction?
Before putting a new product on your skin, do the following:
- Every day for 5 days, apply a small amount behind an ear and leave it on overnight.
- If your skin does not become irritated, follow the same procedure, this time applying the product on an area alongside an eye.
- If you still don't see irritation, the product should be safe for you to apply on any area of your face.
10. What are some tips for protecting my sensitive skin in winter and summer?
First, wear a sunscreen year-round. Use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and use it every day that you will be in the sun for longer than 20 minutes.
Remember, the sun’s skin-damaging UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid going out in the sun during these hours whenever possible, any time of the year.
In winter, to help prevent skin dryness, flaking, itching, and cracking do the following:
- Don’t overheat your home.
- Take warm, not hot, baths and showers -- and fewer of them -- and use a soap-free cleanser.
- Minimize skin dryness after bathing: Pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer while your skin is still moist.
- Use a moisturizer containing petrolatum, mineral oil, linoleic acid, ceramides, dimethicone, or glycerin.
In summer, keep in mind that tanning damages your skin. Don’t lie out in the sun, even if you’ve applied sunscreen. See guidelines for choosing a sunscreen below.
If you do go out, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and tight-woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Apply your sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out, and reapply it every two hours, after swimming, or if you’ve been perspiring heavily.
11. What should I look for in a sunscreen to protect my sensitive skin?
Your sunscreen should be rated SPF 30 or higher. Its active ingredients should be only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. This is because you cannot have an allergic reaction to these physical sunscreens. They deflect the sun’s UV rays instead of absorbing them as chemical sunscreens do.
12. When and how do doctors diagnose and treat sensitive skin?
Most people with sensitive skin don’t seek medical help for mild irritation from skin care products. Instead, they try different products until they find one that doesn’t irritate their skin. They typically only see a dermatologist if their skin condition worsens.
When consulted, the dermatologist will first check for skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, or contact with a skin irritant. They may give you a skin patch test to check for allergies. The dermatologist will also ask about your skin care plan, identify any potential irritants, and recommend milder skin care and household products that are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.