Is Your Skin Truly Sensitive? Find Out!

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A few months ago Annet King, director of global education for the International Dermal Institute, tweeted the stat that about 50 percent of the population claims to have sensitive skin. But do they really? According to King, not necessarily. She said that while some people do have truly sensitive skin others might have sensitized skin, which is temporary and often brought on by environmental issues.

So, if you think you have sensitive skin, King recommends you ask yourself these questions:

  • “What is my skin texture like? Is it delicate, fine, sometimes transparent skin, thinner than average?”
  •  “Is my skin tight? Tightness indicates dehydration, which can lead to skin reactions from products/irritants [that are] able to penetrate the skin barrier.”
  • “Does my skin look red or blotchy? This indicates capillary activity which maybe over reactive (i.e. you get red easily)!”
  • “Does my skin flake or crack easily? This is common in dry, sensitive skin and is another sign of a compromised barrier.”
  • “Do I blush easily? Blushing — another form of over reactive capillary action.”
  • “Do I react easily to topical products? [This is a] common sign of sensitive skin and is generally an inherited trait.”

If you answered yes to pretty much all of these questions and you are fair skinned, of northern European ancestry and suffer from allergies, asthma or eczema, you likely have truly sensitive skin according to King. “What we call this is the atopic triad. [People that fit this description] have higher levels of histamine in the body and thinner, more reactive skin,” she says.

But, if you answered yes to the above questions — some or even all of them — but the symptoms seem to come and go, you likely don’t have truly sensitive skin. Sensitized skin, which is what this is, likely flairs up “after travel, periods of stress, too much sun or over exfoliating,” says King. Truly sensitive skin, which you’re born with, experiences the above issues constantly. And, unlike sensitive skin, “any skin type, race or age can be sensitized — it’s not restricted to fair skin,” she adds.

So tell me, do you have sensitive skin or does your skin just act sensitive from time to time? I’m in the truly sensitive skin category.


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