A women wiping make-up off her face close up

What is sensitive skin? What's causing it and how you can treat it

01 Jun 2023


If you have sensitive skin, you shouldn’t despair as there are things you can try to improve its condition.

What causes sensitive skin?

If your skin doesn’t have enough moisture, then its natural barriers won’t work properly and this can cause it to become irritated and sore. Your nerve endings will react if something harmful reaches them and this is why you feel discomfort.

Here are just a few reasons why you might have sensitive skin:

  • You work in an air conditioned office
  • You’re sitting by a radiator or fire for long periods of time
  • You’re using the wrong skin care products
  • The weather (cold and dry weather in particular)
  • You’re using harsh chemicals when cleaning and not wearing rubber gloves
  • Hormonal changes in your body
  • You’re washing in hard water
  • You’re going through a stressful time in your life
  • The pH level of your skin
  • You’re expecting a baby
  • Dirt and pollution
  • Smoking
  • The washing powder you use

Symptoms of sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, then it might be itchy and sting at times. It can feel tight and you might have red, scaly patches and/or blemishes too.

Treatments for sensitive skin

When it comes to creating the perfect skin care routine for sensitive skin, it can take a while to get it exactly right as what causes one person’s skin to react doesn’t necessarily cause someone else’s to.

Next time you go to buy your normal skin care products, take a look at their ingredients. You want to opt for products that are fragrance-free and don’t contain retinol or glycolic acid. Lots of products are labelled ‘for sensitive skin’ which should help narrow down your options and prevent you from choosing something that will cause irritation.

You should always wash your face every morning and evening to get rid of any dirt. Don’t scrub as this can cause your skin to become more sensitive. Makeup wise, you want to try and let your skin breathe so don’t apply too much foundation if you can help it. If you’re going outside in the sunshine, applying sun cream is a must. You need to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

If you work in an air conditioned office, it’s vital that you apply a good quality moisturiser every morning to try to prevent your skin from drying out. If you can, you should also try to sit as far away from the air conditioning vents as possible. Why not have some moisturiser on your desk so you can reapply it when needed?

When it’s cold outside, we all love turning on our central heating and getting toasty, but going from one extreme to another can make your skin more sensitive. Simply turning your heating down a few degrees so the temperature change is less dramatic could make a huge difference.

If you smoke, this will have a negative impact on your skin. Quit if you can or at the very least try to cut down. You could also benefit from eating a well-balanced diet and making sure you drink enough water every day so your skin is hydrated.

Sometimes, all you need to do is make a small change and your skin will be less sensitive. For instance, when cleaning at home, make sure you always wear rubber gloves. It might be that your skin is reacting badly to the washing powder you currently use so why not try washing your clothes in a non-biological powder instead and see if it makes a difference?

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