The root cause is the skin's own defense system that is no longer doing its job optimally. Healthy skin has a protective barrier called the hydrolipidic film, which acts like a shield to stop bacteria and irritants from reaching the deeper skin layers. This defense shield also holds in moisture and is critical in maintaining skin's firmness, elasticity, and above all its comfort!
In sensitive skin, this barrier is weakened, leaving skin vulnerable to “nasties”, as well as changes in temperature and humidity. Overexposed to bacteria, irritants and environmental changes, skin thinks it’s in danger and sends out warning signals, leading to flushing, burning and stinging.
Why does skin react so strongly?
The skin has an incredible network of nerves, with around twelve endings per square centimeter. In sensitive skin, these nerve endings are hypersensitive, firing off significantly more danger signals to the brain than the nerves in normal skin. In essence, the nerves interpret normal stimuli as harmful, leading to sensations of discomfort at the slightest thing.
What can trigger sensitive skin reactions?
The common aggravating factors basically fall into three categories, evidenced by major studies led by La Roche-Posay on a total of over 6,000 consumers in 8 different countries
Environmental (59.8%)*: changes in temperature or humidity can bring on intense discomfort, as can sun exposure, pollution and even pollen exposure.
Skincare products (55.1%)*: some contain potential irritants, like fragrances or colourants.
The third category is internal factors: psychological stress (34.7%)* as well as lifestyle choices such as spicy foods or alcohol can all trigger sensitive skin to react with redness and discomfort.
*Observational study on 3,800 patients in 8 countries.