Sensitive or Intolerant Skin

Sensitive and intolerant skin reacts more than normal skin; it is hyper-reactive. It is subject to prickling, heating, stinging and itching (more rarely), often in an intermittent way. 

Sometimes combined with redness, these feelings of discomfort are exaggerated in reaction to various kinds of stimuli that normally do not trigger irritation in people without sensitive skin.

These triggering factors can be:

Physical UV radiation, hot or cold weather, wind, temperature variations, friction, etc.
Chemical cosmetics, soap, water, shaving for men, etc.
Psychological stress, emotions, etc.
Hormonal menstrual cycle, etc.
Internal factors spicy food, etc.

Sensitive and intolerant skin therefore reacts to stimuli that have no effect on other skin types. This hyper-sensitivity of the skin is the result of a lowered tolerance threshold. The more sensitive the skin, the lower its tolerance threshold. For sensitive skin, reactivity manifests itself temporarily, at certain times.

Intolerant skin is constantly or nearly constantly reacting and always has nearly zero tolerance.

Your Skin - Sensibio

2 main factors are responsible for this decrease in the tolerance threshold and therefore this heightened sensitivity :

  1. First of all, the barrier function of the epidermis in sensitive and intolerant skin is impaired. This phenomenon promotes skin dehydration and the penetration of potential irritants.
  2. It also seems that sensitive skin secretes too many pro-inflammatory cytokines (substances secreted by skin cells) and certain neuromediators through its superficial nerve endings. These abnormal secretions then cause the unpleasant sensations felt by affected subjects. Sensitive and intolerant skin also produces too many free radicals which then increases the skins susceptibility to further damage.

Mother and daughter sitting and together

Sensitive skin is more common than you would think as it is said to affect a third of the adult population.

Women are more often affected than men, with 60% of women reporting to have sensitive to intolerant skin. Due to genetics, some people’s skin is more sensitive than others and the frequency of this condition generally decreases with age.

People with fair skin may be more prone to sensitivity than others however skin colour overall does not determine this. 

Sensitive skin may or may not be combined with clinical signs of a facial condition such as rosacea, eczema or seborrhoeic dermatitis. 
Not taking precautions against traditional triggering factors can cause the phenomenon to appear and worsen.

Woman looking at her skin in the mirror

Having sensitive skin is not without psychological repercussions either, with reactions disrupting aspects of everyday life. Local treatments are also generally poorly tolerated by sensitive skin which can make its treatment more complicated.

Visit your dermatologist so he/she may identify factors that cause your skin to react or make it worse and give you appropriate advice.
The doctor will examine you to rule out rosacea, eczema or seborrhoeic dermatitis as causes of your skins hypersensitivity; these would require special treatment.

Doctor with a patient in a medical office

All sources of aggression should be limited:

  • Exposure to cold;
  • Irritating products and damaging cosmetic products (aggressive cleansers, scrubs, incorrect creams for your skin type, etc.);
  • For men, using the wrong products and not taking enough time when shaving (hair should be in contact with warm water for at least three minutes to soften it);
  • The sun’s harmful effects on the skin, which increases its sensitivity (use a good photoprotection product).
Cold - Smiling Woman

Use a limited number of soothing cosmetic products. 
Wash your face with a soothing cleansing product aimed to build the skins tolerance, preferably one that is no-rinse, fragrance-free, preservative-free and surfactant-free.
Be very careful when drying your face. Lightly pat instead of rubbing.

Woman cleaning her face

Once or twice a day, gently apply a soothing treatment (fragrance-free, preservative-free, surfactant-free) that fights skin reactions.
Once or twice a week, gently apply an intense moisturising treatment (mask).
Makeup should also be limited and chosen with care.

Bioderma - woman applying cream on the face