By Bonnie Malott
We’ve all been there. Roaming the aisles of the department store, lured by a bevy of potions and lotions, each another promise of reclaimed youth and everlasting beauty, dressed up in packaging that actually seduces you with thoughts of being as pretty as it- an inanimate object! But what we can often forget when in the throes of beauty counter passion is that what works greats on your sister, best friend, or colleague with the glowing complexion won’t necessarily work for you. As we continue to slather on more and more products (usually without proper guidance), our skin is fighting back. In fact, complaints of sudden outbreaks of sensitive skin are becoming the hottest topic at your local dermatologist’s office.
“Patients who complain of sensitive skin are very common,” says Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett. “As the number of products available on the market increases and there is a greater use of products, there is a higher probability of reaction.”
Generally characterized by itching, burning, and/or stinging, with patches of redness and dry spots, truly sensitive skin can be hard to define. Technically, a condition of subjective hyper-reactivity to cosmetics, soaps, sunscreens, and environmental factors like harsh weather, Dr. Lisa Donofrio, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, emphasizes the importance of recognizing the spectrum of conditions, which range from just dry skin to skin that is actually allergic. “Patients don’t really know the difference and tend to feel it is all just ‘sensitive skin’.
Kellett says that while overusing beauty products can lead to sensitive skin, doctors can’t make a proper diagnosis just by looking at you. In addition to redness, breakouts or other symptoms you can see, others, such as itching, burning or stinging, are not visible symptoms.