Tired of sudden breakouts, rashes and itchiness every time you switch skincare products? It could be a sign of sensitive skin. Such skin types are vulnerable and often need special care.
The secret to maintaining healthy sensitive skin is to resort to natural Ayurvedic products that nourish and soothe your skin, besides giving it a radiant glow.
Scroll down to know what irritates your sensitive skin and how you can prevent sensitive skin conditions with Ayurveda’s ancient secrets.
- What Is Sensitive Skin Type?
- Signs And Symptoms Of Sensitive Skin
- What Causes Sensitive Skin?
- How To Determine Sensitivity Of Your Skin?
- What Are The Best Sensitive Skin Treatments?
- 6 Skincare Ingredients To Be Avoided With Sensitive Skin
- What Is A Good Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin?
- When To Consult A Doctor?
What Is Sensitive Skin Type?
Skin that is easily triggered by external factors is referred to as sensitive skin . According to skin specialists, sensitive skin need not be a permanent condition. Certain ingredients in cosmetics, face washes and other products applied to the face can irritate your skin.
Some of you might be sensitive to sun exposure, pollution, and weather changes. That naturally affects your skin. Other causes for sensitive skin can be skin-barrier damage. However, with proper skin care, you can prevent skin reactions and breakouts that are the common problems of sensitive skin.
It is important to get your skin type diagnosed to know what sensitizes it. According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, your skin type depends on your Prakriti or body constitution. Your Prakriti is determined by the level of your Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) or life energies in your body. The Doshas that dominate your Prakriti determine your skin type.
The aggravation of a Dosha often causes skin sensitivity, rashes, inflammation and breakouts.The age old Ayurvedic texts cite the use of various herbs that benefit sensitive skin and prevent skin problems by keeping your Doshas in harmony.
“Sensitive skin generally has a dominance of Vata and Pitta Doshas. Vata makes it sentient to minor changes and Pitta triggers an immune response to cope up, causing inflammation. Alleviating these doshas and balancing Kapha helps sensitive skin types,” says Dr Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is easily irritated, hence must be treated with some extra care. It is wise to consult your Ayurvedic doctor if you experience skin sensitivity. The common signs and symptoms of sensitive skin are listed below to help you understand your skin type better.
Skin that easily reacts to any new exposure is a common trait of sensitive skin. The reaction can vary from a mild tingling sensation to itchiness, inflammation or a rash. The skin reaction is basically an immune response to the new exposure that your body identifies as an allergen. The immune system immediately engages in trying to remove the foreign object resulting in hypersensitivity .
2. Inflammation And Redness
You may often notice inflammation, redness, and red rashes on your skin as a result of sensitivity to a certain trigger. Usually the inflammation or redness reduces with the removal of the triggering agent. However, you can also apply antiseptic lotion or neem paste / aloe vera gel on the site of redness to soothe your skin.
3. Frequent Breakouts
Sensitive skin is prone to breakouts that resemble acne. If you are using any new face wash, cleanser or cream, it may irritate sensitive skin and cause small red eruptions with pus to appear. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know what is triggering your skin. Wash your face and remove the product to prevent aggravating the condition.
4. Smarting And Burning Sensations
Many people complain of burning sensations following the use of certain cosmetics and skincare products. Sensitive skin is quite tender and it may get burnt with the use of products that contain harsh chemicals. If you notice smarting on your skin, quickly wash your face and avoid using the product. You may check its ingredients to know exactly what is too strong for your skin.
A rash is also an immune reaction to an allergen coming in contact with sensitive skin. Applying anything new or a change in your surrounding environment can irritate sensitive skin as it is less tolerant to change. A red, itchy rash can spread across your face once your skin is exposed to the irritant. Stop using the product and cleanse your skin immediately. Consult a doctor if the condition persists.
6. Prone To Sunburns
Sensitive skin is quite defenseless against the harsh UV rays of the sun. If you have sensitive skin, apply sunscreen every time you step out. Over-exposure to the sun can damage and burn sensitive skin easily. Select a sunscreen that is gentle on your skin and has minimum SPF 30. Ingredients such as Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are relatively safe for sensitive skin.
7. Dry Skin
Dryness is often a common sign of sensitive skin. Sensitive skin lacks the essential oils that protect and nourish the skin, making it more susceptible to damage. Dryness soon leads to cracking and flaking of the skin. Dry sensitive skin can be itchy and irritated at times. To prevent your skin from drying, keep moisturizing it frequently. Natural ingredients such as aloe vera, honey, glycerin also help to replenish the lost moisture of your skin.
As opposed to the common belief, sensitive skin is not limited to the face. The symptoms are more commonly noticed in the facial areas. But people with skin sensitivity might face it in other places such as the scalp, hands, neck, feet and genital areas.
What Causes Sensitive Skin?
According to medical research, when sensitive skin comes in contact with a stimulant and causes hypersensitivity, it is referred to as the sensitive skin syndrome. Sensitive skin is easily affected when exposed to new products or environmental changes. Sometimes the effect of certain products on your skin is noticed immediately in the form of a rash. At other times, your skin may react after multiple applications of the product due to a cumulative effect. In order to keep your sensitive skin healthy, avoid the below listed factors.
1. Change In Skincare Routine
Diverting from your regular skin care routine and trying out new brands can irritate sensitive skin that was conditioned to certain products. Though the base of most face washes and face creams remains the same, minor changes in the ingredients are capable of stimulating a sensory reaction. Hence, when it comes to sensitive skin, it is advisable to use natural products that are gentle on your skin.
2. Overuse Of Cosmetics
It is good to curb your use of cosmetics if you have sensitive skin. Apart from certain herbal cosmetic brands that claim to use natural ingredients, most cosmetic products contain harmful chemicals that can damage your skin. Ingredients such as parabens, polysorbates, silica, formaldehyde and others are often considered too harsh for sensitive skin.
3. Over-exposure To Sun Or Heat
Sensitive skin is prone to sunburn and tanning. Over-exposure to the sun can irritate your tender skin and leave you with a burning sensation or redness. Too much heat causes your skin to lose its essential fluids that keep it supple. Cooking for long hours in high flame can also sensitize your skin. So whether you are stepping out or preparing a grand meal it is advisable to apply a sunscreen. A sunscreen with SPF 30 and above is advised while you are going outdoors.
4. Weather Changes
Season changes can dry out your sensitive skin or block its pores due to excess humidity. Plan your skincare well in advance. Moisturize your skin frequently during winters to avoid dry skin conditions. As sensitive skin is often prone to dryness, consult your Ayurvedic doctor to chalk out a good diet plan that can provide extra hydration and prevent problems such as skin flaking and peeling.
Sensitive skin is vulnerable, which is why you need to be gentle with it. Too much scrubbing, cleansing, rubbing can damage the upper layer of your skin. Switching to silk pillow covers instead of cotton will also reduce friction on your face while you sleep.
6. Skin Barrier Damage
The epidermal layer protects your skin from various external factors such as invasion of microbial organisms, weather changes, pollution, UV ray penetration and others. Another major function of the epidermal layer is to maintain the water content of your skin which keeps it hydrated. When this skin barrier  is impaired, your skin is left exposed and vulnerable. This damage often causes hypersensitivity and other sensitive skin related symptoms.
7. Skin Diseases
Certain skin diseases such as Contact Dermatitis, Acne, Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis, Rosacea can cause skin sensitivity. If diagnosed with any of these conditions, seeking medical help is the best way to cure them.
How To Determine Sensitivity Of Your Skin?
If you are facing frequent skin conditions with the slightest change in your skincare regime or every time you go out into the sun, there’s a chance you have sensitive skin. The best way to determine is to consult your Ayurvedic doctor. In the meantime, the below mentioned signs of sensitive skin will help you to find out if you have been experiencing similar skin problems.
A. You experience hypersensitivity
B. Your skin is prone to rashes
C. You often notice redness and breakouts
D. Your skin burns and itches when exposed to new products
E. Dryness, skin flaking, cracking and peeling are common skin conditions that you deal with
Vedix Tip: Always do a patch test before applying any new skin care product to sensitive skin. Apply the product to a small area and wait to see if it suits your skin before you apply to a wider area.
What Are The Best Sensitive Skin Treatments?
With the increase in pollution and various chemical exposures, more than 50% women and almost 40% men face skin sensitivity. Luckily, advanced medical research in different fields of medicine has come up with various available solutions. Consult your doctor to know the correct dose and longevity of the treatment for best results.
1. Ayurvedic Treatments For Sensitive Skin
In Ayurveda, skin sensitivity or ‘Sparsha Asahatwa’ is a serious condition that comes under Vata and Pitta vitiated diseases. The ancient Ayurvedic texts cite the administration of certain medicinal herbs, formulations and the Panchakarma Therapy which can calm sensitive skin and cure the problem by balancing the Doshas.
A. Ayurvedic Herbs
The antibacterial properties of Neem help in reducing skin conditions such as inflammations, rashes, redness and burning sensations. Rich in fatty acids and Vitamin E, neem helps to repair damaged skin. Boil neem leaves and apply the water to your face or make a paste and keep it for an hour to reduce skin sensitivity.
A natural Vata Dosha pacifier, Kumari or Aloe Vera work miracles on dry sensitive skin. Kumari heals and moisturizes skin that lacks its essential oils and brings back its supple, healthy glow. Rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins, it works well on skin conditions such as inflammations, dryness and breakouts.
Yastimadhu or Licorice is packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage of your skin. The essential nutrients present in it nourish and rejuvenate irritated skin. It is commonly used to treat various Vata-Pitta related skin disorders such as sensitivity, eczema, inflammations amongst others.
The indispensable spice in your kitchen is a powerful Ayurvedic herb highly effective in treating skin disorders such as skin hypersensitivity, atopic dermatitis and eczema. Haldi’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties can cure various skin infections.
5. Gotu Kola
With amazing skin repairing properties, Gotu Kola is used to treat damaged skin, skin barrier impairment, skin sensitivity and other skin related issues. It increases blood circulation under the epidermis and helps to keep your skin healthy and nourished.
B. Ayurvedic Medicines
Your Ayurvedic doctor will be able to guide you on the dosage of these Ayurvedic formulations. Commonly used medicines to treat skin sensitivity and other skin conditions are:
Containing the age-old herb Sariva or Indian Sarsaparilla, this medicine is used to cure various skin related problems such as eczema, contact dermatitis, sensitive skin, allergic dermatitis. It effectively purifies your blood of harmful toxins and detoxes your body.
2. Kaishora Guggulu
A powerful Ayurvedic medicine containing few of Ayurveda’s best herbs for skin ailments - Triphala, Vidanga, Guggulu. It also has anti-ageing properties that repair skin and maintain its elasticity.
3. Haridrakhanda Rasayana
This rasayana is highly beneficial in treating allergy reactions, itchiness, breakouts and other skin disorders. It has the wonder herb turmeric as one of its key ingredients.
C. Panchakarma Therapy
The Panchakarma Therapy is often advised by Ayurvedic doctors as the ultimate solution to skin conditions. The therapy purges your body of the disease-causing Ama toxins and balances the Doshas. It usually involves the 5 procedures of cleansing -
- Vamana (purging through emesis)
- Virechana (administration of laxatives to reduce Pitta)
- Niroohavasti (medicated enema)
- Nasya (administration of medicated oil through the nose cavity)
- Anuvasanavasti (oil enema)
2. Home Remedies For Sensitive Skin
A. Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil has been the most trusted home remedy for all skin problems since generations. Rich in Vitamin E, K and other essential nutrients, it forms a protective layer over your skin and prevents further damage to the epidermal layer. It is highly beneficial for dry sensitive skin and prevents cracking and flaking of skin. You can apply coconut oil to minor skin infections and to the site of skin sensitivity to receive some immediate relief.
Oatmeal is a great alternative to market face washes, especially when you are dealing with sensitive skin. Good for cleansing both oily sensitive skin and dry sensitive skin. The saponins present in oatmeals are natural lather forming agents derived from plants that gently clean your skin of dead cells and product build-ups. Medical research also claims that applying oatmeal to the area of sensitivity can help with symptoms such as dryness, itch, breakouts and others.
Unpasteurized honey, according to skin specialists, has special skin healing properties that are highly beneficial when applied to damaged skin. Being a natural humectant and an emollient, honey helps to lock in moisture and keeps sensitive dry skin soft and hydrated. It is also known to be effective against skin problems such as eczema, rashes, acne and breakouts.
Rich in carotenoids, Kesar or saffron helps repair your skin barrier and protect sensitive skin against microbial invasions. Its anti-inflammatory properties help calm sensitive skin and reduce symptoms such as inflammations, itchiness and rashes. It also acts like an antioxidant and prevents free radical damage to skin.
3. Other Medications To Treat Skin Sensitivity
If you are experiencing heightened sensitivity or allergic reactions to any skin product, your doctor may prescribe any one of the following medications.
A. Anti-allergic Medication
Usually available as tablets, these can provide quick relief to allergic skin reactions and hyperreactivity.
B. Skin Numbing or Analgesic Creams
Certain over-the-counter skin numbing topical creams are also available for instant relief from itchiness and irritated skin.
C. Skin Soothing Lotions
Certain antiseptic skin soothing topical lotions available over the counter can be applied to the sensitive area to get relief from minor sensitivity.
6 Skincare Ingredients To Be Avoided With Sensitive Skin
Choosing your skincare products wisely is the first step to a healthy sensitive skincare routine. Most skincare products contain harmful chemicals that may sensitize your skin and cause further damage to the epidermal barrier. Lookout and avoid the below listed ingredients to take care of your sensitive skin.
Most cleansers and face washes that foam too much have sulfates in action. Ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are especially harmful for sensitive skin. Sulfates cause excess water loss, thus making sensitive skin more dry and vulnerable. Go for mild non-foaming cleansers that clean your skin gently without dehydrating it.
Parabens are harmful chemical preservatives found in most skincare products to increase their shelf life. Parabens are known carcinogens and constant exposure to them result in various skin diseases.
Skincare products that contain alcohol are usually more drying than others. Dryness already being a sensitive skin symptom, the presence of alcohol in your skincare item can all the more damage your skin. Alcohol can also irritate sensitive skin causing inflammations.
Fragrances  in your skincare products can be alluring but quite damaging for your sensitive skin. Most products that have fragrance mentioned on their label contain various harmful chemicals that are not mentioned. These chemicals are known skin irritants and must be avoided in case of skin sensitivity. Search for medicated or herbal skincare brands that are fragrance free.
5. Essential Oils
Essential Oils are often considered therapeutic, but not so for sensitive skin. Essential oils are complex compounds that don't go well with skin that is sensitive. Complex components can be treated as an allergen by the immune system, thus causing a sensory reaction.
6. Chemical Sunscreens
Though sunscreens are necessary for sensitive skin, the chemical ones can cause burning sensations and irritations. Zinc oxide containing sunscreens are considered relatively safe for sensitive skin and provide protection from harmful UV rays.
What Is A Good Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin?
According to Ayurveda, sensitive skincare should be specially formulated depending on your Prakriti or body constitution. Generalized skin care products can contain ingredients that may irritate your skin. Opting for customized sensitive skin care is the best way to maintain healthy sensitive skin. Below mentioned are the 4 basic steps in a sensitive skin care routine that you can follow after consulting your Ayurvedic doctor.
Opt for mild cleansers that are sulfate, paraben and fragrance free. Ayurvedic products that contain neem, turmeric, licorice are good options. Or simply trust oatmeal to cleanse and gently exfoliate your skin without causing any irritation. Oatmeal is suitable for both dry and oily sensitive skin.
2. Toning (optional)
Toning is recommended only for oily sensitive skin. Choose one that does not contain alcohol or fragrances. Toners tend to dry skin which is good if your skin is prone to acne or oil build-ups. But for sensitive dry skin, toning is not important.
Due to the impairment of the epidermal barrier in sensitive skin, there is excess trans-epidermal water loss. This leaves your skin feeling dry and dehydrated. Hence, the application of a moisturizer after cleansing is mandatory. Sensitive skin care in winter may require more application of moisturizers than in summer.
Use a moisturizer with skin barrier repair function to protect your sensitive skin from external damage. Natural moisturizers such as Aloe Vera, Honey and Coconut are always more preferred as they hydrate and nourish sensitive skin without any side effects.
4. Protecting Your Skin From Harmful Sun Rays
Sensitive skin is prone to thermal damage, which is why sunscreen is a must before you step out. Don’t let a cloudy day fool you as UV rays can penetrate a cloud cover and still harm your epidermis . Applying Aloe Vera gel can prevent sun damage or else choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide that is mild on sensitive skin.
When To Consult A Doctor?
Sensitive skin is prone to minor reactions such as redness, mild itching or breakouts. These symptoms should go away with discontinuation of the product causing the reaction. However, if the symptoms persist or heighten leading to severe discomfort, allergic reaction, difficulty in breathing, immediately consult a doctor.
The Last Word
Sensitivity may not necessarily be a permanent skin condition if you maintain a proper sensitive skin care routine. Since the cause of sensitivity varies from person to person, skin care too must vary. Relying on Ayurvedic treatments is considered the best option by most skin specialists, as there are no side effects. However, it is advised that you consult your Ayurvedic doctor for the most suitable skin care regimen that will suit your needs and skin type.
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