Sensitive skin is the one which has reduced tolerance to cosmetic products and also to weather and environment. People with sensitive skin, have a history of burning and itching. The symptoms vary from mild to severe. To begin with, it would be mild discomfort and extreme burning, stinging, swelling, and redness. Most of us may feel skin irritations but a person with sensitive skin perpetually has burning and rashes on the face even on just splashing water on the face. 

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What are the causes of sensitive skin? 

Sensitive skin can result from a combination of factors, which often interplay to produce the symptoms of irritation, burning, and redness. Here are the primary causes:

  1. Overreactive Immune System: Individuals with an overreactive immune system tend to have heightened responses to various stimuli, including cosmetics and environmental factors. This hyperactivity can lead to allergic reactions or sensitivities, causing discomfort and skin irritation.
  2. Hyperactive Nerve Endings: Sensitive skin often has hyperactive nerve endings that respond intensely to external stimuli such as wind, air conditioning, extreme temperatures, and sunlight. This heightened sensitivity results in a burning sensation even with minimal irritation.
  3. Hypersensitive Blood Capillaries: The small blood vessels in sensitive skin can be overly reactive, leading to prolonged redness or flushing. This hypersensitivity can make the skin appear red and inflamed, often exacerbated by environmental factors or physical irritation.
  4. Compromised Skin Barrier: The skin’s natural defense barrier, which prevents the entry of harmful substances and retains moisture, can be compromised in sensitive skin. This weakened barrier allows irritants, allergens, and pollutants to penetrate the skin more easily, leading to increased irritation and moisture loss.
  5. Genetic Predisposition: Genetics play a significant role in skin sensitivity. Individuals with a personal or family history of allergies, eczema, or other atopic conditions are more likely to have sensitive or hyper-irritable skin. Genetic factors can influence the skin’s barrier function, immune response, and overall sensitivity.

Together, these factors contribute to the symptoms experienced by those with sensitive skin, making it crucial to identify and manage triggers to minimize discomfort and maintain skin health.

Predisposing or Aggravating factors of sensitive skin

Sensitive skin can be exacerbated by various predisposing and aggravating factors. Here are some common ones:

  1. Expired or Long-Opened Cosmetic Products: Using cosmetic products that have been open for more than 2-3 months, even if they are within their expiry dates, can lead to irritation. Exposure to air and contaminants over time can degrade the product’s quality.
  2. Introduction of New Cosmetic Products: Symptoms often appear or worsen when a new cosmetic product is introduced. The skin may react to new ingredients, leading to increased sensitivity.
  3. Irritating Substances: Ingredients like retinol, AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids), or harsh scrubs can irritate sensitive skin. These substances can cause redness, burning, and peeling, especially if the skin is already prone to sensitivity.
  4. Overzealous Washing and Product Use: Excessive washing or using too many products without understanding their ingredients can harm the skin. This applies to everyone, but sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable. Over-cleansing can strip the skin of its natural oils, further compromising its barrier function.
  5. Environmental Factors: Excessive exposure to sun, pollution, or extreme weather conditions (winter or summer) can aggravate sensitive skin. Sudden changes in temperature, such as moving from an air-conditioned environment to the outdoors, can also trigger reactions.
  6. Lifestyle Factors: Alcohol and smoking can exacerbate skin sensitivity. These habits can impair the skin’s natural defenses and contribute to overall skin irritation.
  7. Dietary Factors: Consuming spicy foods can trigger or worsen skin sensitivity in some individuals. These foods can cause flushing and increased sensitivity.

Understanding these factors can help individuals with sensitive skin avoid triggers and manage their symptoms more effectively.

Signs and Symptoms                                                                                                

Sensitive skin manifests through a variety of signs and symptoms, which can be categorized into subjective and objective indicators:

Subjective Signs (What the person feels)

  1. Burning: A sensation of heat and discomfort on the skin.
  2. Tingling and Stinging: Sharp, prickly sensations that can be quite irritating.
  3. Itching: A persistent urge to scratch the skin.
  4. Dryness: A feeling of tightness and lack of moisture in the skin.

Objective Signs (Visible symptoms)

  1. Redness: Areas of the skin become red and inflamed.
  2. Scaling: Flaky or scaly patches on the skin surface.
  3. Peeling: The skin may shed or peel off in layers.
  4. Papules or Red Patches: Small, red bumps or larger areas of red, inflamed skin.

These signs and symptoms indicate that the skin is reacting adversely to various triggers and requires gentle care and avoidance of known irritants.

Skincare for Sensitive Skin

Precautions for sensitive skin                                    

How to take care if you have bad skin days, like constant redness, burning, or irritation. Follow the steps below.


Sensitive skin is a condition marked by a reduced tolerance to cosmetics and environmental factors, leading to symptoms like burning, itching, and redness. It can result from an overreactive immune system, hyperactive nerve endings, hypersensitive blood capillaries, a compromised skin barrier, and genetic predisposition. Various factors can exacerbate the condition, including the use of expired or long-opened cosmetic products, introducing new products, irritating substances, over-washing, environmental changes, lifestyle habits like alcohol and smoking, and certain dietary choices.

Signs and symptoms of sensitive skin include both subjective sensations such as burning, tingling, itching, and dryness, and objective symptoms like redness, scaling, peeling, and papules. Effective skincare for sensitive skin involves using gentle, pH-balanced, and non-irritating products, maintaining a minimal routine, and avoiding known triggers.

By understanding the causes, aggravating factors, and proper care methods, individuals with sensitive skin can manage their condition better, reduce discomfort, and maintain healthier skin.