Reactive skin manifests itself in the form of redness, dryness, irritation, and other unpleasant problems that are often confused with a variety of skin conditions. What does it mean to have reactive skin and how to treat this?
Reactive skin is a fairly common problem that has to do with excessive sensitivity to various factors. This condition manifests itself in the form of the skin becoming red, dry, shiny, or irritated and this can bloom suddenly. In many cases, the causes are unknown.
This phenomenon is more common in women. According to experts, about one in three women suffers from reactive skin. Some of them experience the symptoms so often that they eventually consider them “normal” even though they are not. In fact, many dermatologists also have trouble diagnosing these skin phenomena.
Reactive skin is often referred to as sensitive, irritated, or intolerant skin, but these terms are not exact. Reactive skin is not a disease in itself, but it does cause discomfort to those who experience it. What is the cause behind reactive skin? And what can be done to keep the symptoms under control?
What is reactive skin?
Until recently, this condition was commonly referred to as “sensitive skin”. However, dermatologists believe that the term “reactive skin” is more accurate. It is defined as a type of skin that causes unpleasant sensations, such as a burning sensation, itching, pain, or a stinging sensation due to a stimulus that does not usually trigger this type of reaction.
This phenomenon is classified as skin reactivity only when no other condition can explain the changes in the skin. In other words, the symptoms cannot be explained by, for example, an allergy to a specific substance or the presence of an irritant, such as soap.
Another characteristic of this condition is that it generally occurs regularly and periodically. In other words, the symptoms bloom and then disappear. Cosmetics are often a trigger.
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The causes of reactive skin
Research has not yet fully elucidated the reasons why reactive skin occurs. However, three hypotheses can explain this phenomenon. We tell you more about them below.
- Epidermal hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that the skin barrier, which is located in the epidermis, is defective. It, therefore, does not protect the skin sufficiently from external substances.
- Biochemical hypothesis. This hypothesis indicates that these cases are anomalies in channels called TRP (transient receptor potential channels). These are located in the outermost part of the epidermal cells and the nerve endings.
- Neurogenic hypotheses. This hypothesis suggests that people with reactive skin have a lower number of intraepidermal nerve fibers. At the same time, they show a greater release of inflammatory neurotransmitters.
At the same time, experts have determined that certain specific factors can trigger skin reactivity. These include the following:
- Improper use of cosmetics
- Continuous exposure to certain chemicals
- Pollution in the environment
- Heat and radiation treatment
- Extreme temperatures
- Some medications
- Lack of sleep
- Low humidity
- Strong food or very spicy food
What measures can be taken to prevent skin reactivity?
People who experience skin reactivity must be careful with the products they use. It is best to talk to a dermatologist so that he or she can indicate which specific products are best for each case.
It is important to make some changes in your beauty routine and optimize the cleansing and moisturizing of the skin. Using and applying sunscreen every two to three hours is also crucial.
At the same time, it is important to avoid cosmetics that contain potentially irritating ingredients. Some examples include propylene glycol, TCA, AHA, alcohol but there are also more. At the same time, people with reactive skin should avoid moisturizing with creams that contain retinoids and hydroxy acids. Besides, anti-aging and strong exfoliating products can be irritating.
To cleanse and moisturize reactive skin, it is best to use lotions and creams instead of other products. You should apply these products by gently pressing them against the skin without friction.
Reactive skin – conclusion
The treatment of reactive skin is complex, as is the diagnosis. First of all, the dermatologist must rule out all other possible conditions. Then he or she can indicate which products are best for each patient. In the same way, the doctor should find out which products are the most triggering.
Sometimes doctors recommend drugs that are commonly used to treat atopic skin, which has also been shown to be effective in cases of reactive skin. In any case, people with this skin condition must moisturize the skin. This means that you not only use moisturizing creams but also drink a lot of water.