All The Signs You May Have Sensitive Skin

Skincare routines have blown up on social media, which has led to many of us questioning our own skin types. Of course, there are three household-name skin types — dry, oily, and combination — but there are even more factors to consider. One of these factors is if your skin is sensitive.

Sensitive skin can occur in all skin types, though it is more common in dry skin. Founder of Skin Joy Dermatology Saya Obayan, M.D., M.P.H., tells The Zoe Report that she defines sensitive skin as "very easily irritated, even by products or environments that don't normally cause irritation." This should never be confused with sensitized skin, which is when a person without sensitive skin uses a very strong product and develops irritation.

Unfortunately, sensitive skin can show its true colors in a variety of ways, leading consumers to question if their skin is truly sensitive or if there is another underlying problem. If you find yourself questioning whether you have sensitive skin and are unsure where to turn, no need to fear! We have curated five common signs you may need to seek further treatment for sensitive skin.

Redness and itching

If you are constantly battling redness and itching (or burning), you may have sensitive skin. If this happens when you use gentle products that your friends also use with no problems, the odds are that your skin is simply too sensitive to handle it. The impact on nerve endings in the top layer of your skin is what will cause these uncomfortable sensations. "The irritation of nerve endings occurs when the skin's natural barrier is weakened or broken down by triggers," says dermatologist Dr. Amy B. Lewis (via Allure). These triggers can be present in a variety of skin products, including soap and makeup.

You can't treat your acne with traditional products

Acne products for those with sensitive skin are very hard to come by. While products with traditional acne-fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid, may help cure stubborn pimples, they will cause other problems for those with sensitive skin. If you use traditional acne-fighting products with sensitive skin, you may experience redness, burning, and itching. Instead, try lower percentages of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, introduce new products gradually into your routine, and stay away from harsh scrubs and other products that irritate your sensitive skin (via MDacne). It also is beneficial to visit a dermatologist if you have stubborn acne but your skin is too sensitive for traditional treatments, as a dermatologist can help you find a custom routine that works for your specific skin type.

Rashes and hives

Another common symptom of sensitive skin is the development of rashes and hives. If you find yourself developing rashes and hives from using gentle products not known for causing irritation, it is likely you have sensitive skin. This is known as irritant contact dermatitis, which may require treatment such as steroid creams or numbing creams to go away (via Healthline). There is really no way to get around having a reaction to products, which is why you should try to find gentle products that work for you. As some rashes and hives can have dangerous effects, it is best to visit a dermatologist should you be in this scenario.

The environment affects your skin

Many people with sensitive skin see changes in their skin's texture and appearance as the seasons change. While everyone can say their lips may get chapped in colder weather, it is taken to a new extreme when your skin is already sensitive. For example, people with sensitive skin often develop extremely dry, cracked, and flaky skin as the weather gets colder, paving the way for severe rashes and sores. According to Intermountain Healthcare, dry air that is often present in winter absorbs moisture out of the skin, leaving it drier than usual. In the colder months, use moisturizing products that help repair the skin barrier and avoid over-exfoliating to keep irritation to a minimum (via DERMAdoctor).

Very dry skin

Perhaps the most common sign of sensitive skin is constant dryness. Dry skin is the skin type most likely to be sensitive. If you have extremely dry skin that causes cracking and sores no matter the weather, you most likely have sensitive skin. Overly dry skin that is constantly flaking provides little barrier to the nerve endings on the skin, which is what is causing the skin to be so sensitive, per WebMD. While there may be no way to cure sensitive skin, there are ways to combat the dryness it brings. Combat dryness by using products to restore the skin's barrier, such as moisturizers with essential ceramides.