Skin reactivity is a fairly common problem associated with skin hypersensitivity and how it responds to various stimuli. Reactivity manifests as redness, dryness, gloss, or irritation, which usually occurs quite suddenly, often for no good reason.
This phenomenon is more common in women than men, and it is estimated that one in three women may suffer from it at some point in their lives. Many people have symptoms so often that these symptoms are interpreted as “normal,” even if they are not. In fact, many dermatologists may also have difficulty identifying and classifying these symptoms.
Skin reactivity can be described as, among other things, “sensitive skin” or “irritated skin,” but these designations do not, in principle, fully tell you what this problem is all about. Reactive skin is not a disease in itself, but it is an ailment that causes discomfort and affects appearance. So what is it related to? And what treatments are there to manage it?
What does skin reactivity mean?
Until recently, above all, there was talk of “sensitive skin”. However, dermatologists think it is more accurate to talk about skin reactivity. This is defined as a skin type that causes unpleasant sensations such as burning, itching, pain, or tingling due to stimuli that would not normally cause that reaction.
Skin reactivity can be suspected especially when the person does not already have a pathology that could explain the skin symptoms and skin changes. In other words, for example, a person does not suffer from certain substance allergies, such as irritation caused by soap, which could explain skin symptoms.
Another characteristic feature of reactive skin is that symptoms usually occur intermittently, i.e., symptoms appear suddenly and also disappear suddenly. The use of cosmetics is often the trigger.
Causes of reactive skin
Nor has science been able to give reasons why some people suffer from reactive skin. However, there are three hypotheses that could explain this phenomenon. We will look at them next:
- Epidermal hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that the outermost layer of skin, or epidermis, is defective. For this reason, it cannot adequately protect itself from external factors.
- Biochemical hypothesis. This hypothesis, in turn, shows that the cause of reactive skin is abnormalities in ion channels called TRP ( transient receptor potential channels ). These ion channels are located in the outermost part of epidermal cells and at nerve endings.
- Neurogenic hypothesis. The neurogenic hypothesis, in turn, indicates that people with reactive skin have fewer intradermal nerve fibers. For this reason, they also release more inflammatory mediators.
On the other hand, it has been found that there are some stimuli that can expose the skin to reactivity. Among these, we find the following, among others:
- Misuse of cosmetic products
- Continuous exposure to certain chemicals
- Environmental pollution
- Thermal or radiotherapy
- Extreme temperatures
- Some medicines
- Lack of sleep
- Low humidity
- Spicy or very hot food
Avoid skin reactivity
People who suffer from this ailment must be very careful about what kind of products they use for skin care. In these situations, it would be best to consult a dermatologist first so that a person skilled in the art can tell you which skin care products are best suited for the treatment of reactive and particularly sensitive skin.
It is also important to make some changes to your skin care routine. In the case of reactive skin, special attention should be paid above all to optimizing skin cleansing and moisture. In addition, it is essential that sunscreen be applied to the skin and that sunscreen be remembered to be applied to the skin at regular intervals, every two or three hours, and whenever the skin gets wet or sweaty.
Patients with reactive skin should also avoid cosmetics that contain skin irritants such as propylene glycol, TCA, AHA, and alcohol. Moisturizing creams containing retinoids and hydroxy acids, anti-aging creams or strong exfoliating creams are also not recommended.
What should we remember?
Treating reactive skin is complex, just like diagnosing it. The first task is to rule out all other possible pathologies as well as create an individual skin care routine according to his or her own needs. In addition, all products and habits that cause the skin to react in a negative way should be explored and learning to avoid them should be learned.
Sometimes your doctor may also prescribe medications for your skin care. These drugs are often used to treat atopic dermatitis and have been shown to be effective in some cases of reactive skin. In any case, the most important thing is to keep the skin moisturized both with moisturizers suitable for the skin and by consuming adequate amounts of water on a daily basis.