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Types Of Sensitive Skin

Skin is the largest and most exposed organ of your body. It reflects the condition of your general health and people are usually quite concerned about having good skin, as it is considered to be a symbol of beauty.

Sensitive skin is usually problematic and poses many issues. Almost 50% of all people claim to have a sensitive skin. But the question is, how many of them actually do?

There are two type of sensitive skins – naturally sensitive skin and sensitized skin. Let’s have a look at the differences between the two.

What Is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is a skin type, just like oily or dry skin. As it is genetic, you are born with delicate skin. It is naturally sensitive and cannot be caused by any environmental factors.

A naturally sensitive skin has certain characteristics. These are:

  • It is most prevalent in Northern European people
  • It is more delicate and prone to damage than normal skin
  • It looks thinner and translucent, so that blood vessels can be easily seen through it
  • It reddens easily and you can see the capillaries around the nose and cheek
  • It is more prone to breakouts and rashes
  • It is more common in white people
  • People with dark skin can also be naturally sensitive, but the prevalence is less
  • It is prone to rashes and bothersome allergies, like hay fever, dust and animal allergies etc.
  • It is more prone to inflammatory skin diseases, like psoriasis and eczema etc.

What Is Sensitized Skin?

This is a skin condition that is neither natural nor genetic, but is acquired. It is a not skin type but a skin problem. Sensitization of your skin occurs when it is exposed to different environmental or lifestyle factors.

Simply speaking, it occurs when your skin becomes sensitized to different environmental factors that trigger it. This is why it can occur to a person of any ethnicity, skin type and skin colour.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sensitized Or Sensitive Skin?

People who have a sensitive or sensitized skin can experience:

  • Itchy, stinging and irritated skin
  • Dryness and patches
  • Redness and rashes
  • Cosmetic reactions
  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Bumpy and blotchy skin
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Acne and pimples
  • Touch sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to temperature or environmental changes

As sensitive skin is natural or genetic, it generally stays with you constantly. However, sensitized skin usually has symptom-free times once it has healed.

What Are The Factors that Cause Skin Sensitivity?

There are many environmental and lifestyle factors that can cause sensitive skin. These are a few of them.


Indoor and outdoor pollution are not good for your skin, whether it is sensitive or not.

Your skin has an acidic pH and works as a barrier by keeping harmful factors at bay. The pollutants in the environment can change the natural pH of your skin, making your skin vulnerable to harmful invaders, which increases its sensitivity.

Wrong Choice Of Cosmetics

Cosmetics are an integral part of our everyday routine and can affect our skin in various ways. Here are a few of them:

  • Using products (like soaps) with a pH that is incompatible with your natural skin pH can make your skin excessively dry and sensitive
  • Products containing some elements (like plant extracts etc.) that your skin is sensitive to can lead to skin allergies
  • Using harsh scrubs and other exfoliation products can irritate your skin


Your skin produces natural oils that save your skin from damage. When you either over-wash or over-cleanse your skin, these oils are washed away, making it prone to damage.

Excessive Exposure To Sunlight

While an appropriate amount of sunlight is good for your health, excessive exposure can cause various health issues. Due to the thinning of the ozone layer, many dangerous sunrays enter the environment without being filtered. These damage your skin and make it sensitive.

Vigorous Medical Procedures

There are various new medical techniques that offer a better skin texture. However, either overuse or misuse of these techniques can make your skin sensitive. These techniques include laser, microdermabrasion, peeling etc.

Bad Dietary Habits

Your skin reflects your dietary habits, as alcohol, caffeine, junk food and smoking can affect your skin negatively.

Emotional Stress

Emotional stress and depression can also make your skin prone to damage and increase its sensitivity.

How Do These Factors Make Your Skin Sensitive?

Your skin is made up of many layers. The stratum corneum is the outermost layer, protects your skin from damaging elements.

A sensitive or sensitized skin affects this barrier function, usually creating micro cracks in it. This allows the diffusion of water and other products in both directions, making the skin vulnerable as water, microorganisms and irritants can diffuse in, leading to infections, inflammation and dryness.

If your skin is dry, flaky and cracked, it means your stratum corneum is damaged and requires barrier repair agents.

What Is A Reactive Skin?

Reactive skin is extremely sensitive and so instantly reacts to applied products or environmental factors, becoming red, irritated, hot, itchy and inflamed. People with a reactive skin type need to be extremely careful with the products they use and are advised to use mild products.

If your skin goes red when you use a product, your skin is reacting and you should immediately stop using it. However, some products, like scrubs, can make your skin temporarily red, which is not an allergic reaction. Thin, sensitive skin usually reddens more easily because the capillaries are closer to the surface and so a mild stimulation can increase the blood flow through them.

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