Tips for Managing Sensitive Skin
Are You Itching?
I used to itch all the time.
My hands would break out into hives, my clothes would irritate me, and I scratched my head constantly. It never occurred to me at first that I had sensitive skin, but when I did my research, I found out that I had eczema.
Once I armed myself with knowledge, I started making some lifestyle changes, and the irritation slowly went away. If you have sensitive skin, here are a couple areas in your life that can be adjusted so you can finally feel comfortable again.
Did you know?
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA for short, is an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. It has been traced to abuse of antibiotics and antibacterial products.
There are two types of soap that are almost always bound to irritate and dry out: scented soap and antibacterial soap.
- Scented soap can be a problem because of the chemical compounds that go into making your favorite smell. Some soaps may not even smell like they are scented, but check the label. Look out for ingredients such as perfume, parfum, and fragrance. The sneaky thing about these labels is that these cocktails can contain up to 1000 different chemicals, yet soap companies only have to list it as one ingredient: fragrance. So watch out.
- Antibacterial soap is also a big irritant. The ingredients not only kill germs, but they can also dry out your hands. It's also not necessary to use antibacterial products. It's viruses like rhinovirus (the common cold) that usually make you sick, not bacteria. Plus antibacterials don't kill all bacteria; the ones that survive become stronger. The best way to ensure that your hands are clean is to use hot water and scrub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
My first pick for sensitive skin is castile soap. My favorite one, Kirk's Castile Soap, is made from coconut oil and rinses clean. Castile soap has been around for over a century, and there's something to be said about the test of time. It may not be easy to find in a supermarket, though, so my second choice is Dove's Sensitive Skin bar soap. It's good for all areas of your body and doesn't dry you out.
If you are the adventurous type, making your own cold-process bar soap can be fun and a great way to avoid the preservatives and irritants in commercial soaps. After a few experimentations, I currently have a homemade supply of bar soap that will last me through the year - and it's super cost effective!
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Once again, the main culprit in lotions is fragrance. Avoid it if at all possible. This can sometimes be a trick, since most cheaper lotions are all scented. Also, sometimes mineral oil can irritate some hands. The reason for this is possibly because mineral oil doesn't absorb as easily as other natural oils and tends to sit on the surface of your skin. You may have layers of lotion on but still feel dry and cracked underneath it all. My favorite lotion is Aveeno. It contains oat flour that absorbs well and is gentle on skin. It also goes a long way; you don't have to put a lot on. It's good enough to use on your face and entire body, and is completely unscented.
Most people don't think about this, but residue from your laundry detergent and fabric softener lingers in your clothes, and start to make you itch throughout the day. Like lotions, detergents and softeners typically contain fragrance. Dye can also be an issue with detergents. Nowadays, this can easily be avoided since most major detergent brands make alternative versions of their product without the scent or dye. ALL Free + Clear works well with me. As for fabric softeners, this can be more of a trick. Both the liquids and the dryer sheets are criminals on this front. Your best bet would be dryer balls. These spiky little rubber balls go in your dryer and bounce around with your laundry. They do a fairly decent job of softening your clothes, although not as good of a job as what you would be giving up.
Skin care takes place on the inside, too. Your body needs all the proper nutrients in order for your body to produce skin cells with proper moisture and elasticity. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are responsible for the healthy feel and look of your skin, and the American diet is sadly lacking in these vital nutrients. If you do not already, look into taking an Omega-3 supplement, such as flax oil or fish oil. Also, with sensitive skin, consider taking Evening Primrose Oil. This oil is used frequently in Europe for skins conditions such as eczema and diaper rash, and can be taken orally and used topically. It is clinically proven to improve skin condition and make your skin more resistant to irritants such as harsh chemicals and protects your hands from drying out due to frequent hand-washing. A daily regimen of a couple capsules a day for at least twelve weeks can make huge difference. Look for it in health supplement stores.
It may not be possible to avoid all things that irritate your skin. Sometimes stress can also accentuate your sensitivities. But if you follow these tips, most of your itching should go away. If you followed all of these suggestions and you still have an issue, you might have a more serious problem than sensitivity (like an allergy or psoriasis) and I highly recommend that you see a dermatologist.
Make sure to take everyday in order to build up benefits. Results may take up to 3 months to notice.