Did you know that half of the population believes it has sensitive skin? What actually causes sensitive skin? It turns out that there are three main etiologies for sensitive skin:
Type I: A reduction in skin barrier function characterized by flaky skin and eczema.
Type II: Normal barrier function but inflammation is present
Type III: Environmental conditions that cause the skin to overreact with irritation (no inflammation and barrier function is intact).
The most common cause of skin sensitivity is Type III. Type I and type II are usually linked to atopic dermatitis. Type III on the other hand, presents in otherwise healthy individuals.
Type III skin displays hyperreactivity to everyday stimuli such as sunlight, pollution, heat and clothing. This enhanced reaction of the skin to common stimuli results in skin that itches, burns and feels tight. The underlying culprit is sensory over-responsivity.
Why would such a small change in the environment lead to such an aggressive response by the skin?
Pain receptors, present on cells receive signals from the environment to warn us of things that may be hot or harmful. This is our first line of defense against environmental stresses. The pain receptors of individuals with sensitive skin overreact which produces feelings of tightness, itching and burning when there is nothing harmful present.
Extracts for sensitive skin. Sensitive skin should be soothed with extracts like Chamomile, Aloe Vera, Calendula, and witch hazel.
Hydrosols are also a very important skin care ingredient used to soothe sensitive skin. Hydrosols are the left over water from the steam distillation of plants and herbs. One hydrosol in particular, Neroli (Orange Blossom) contains alpha terpineol which has anti-inflammatory effects.
Current research suggests hope in the nueurocosmetic ingredient SensAmone P5, a peptide inspired by Sea Anemone Venom, to inhibit pain receptor overreaction.
A double blind clinical study showed:
- After one Application of SensAmone P5 over-reactive skin was soothed.
- Response to stress by the skin was reduced
- Itching seen in sensitive skin was significantly reduced.