Sensitive, reactive or allergic skin? Let's clarify

What is the difference between sensitive skin, reactive skin and allergic skin? How do skin reactions originate and what skincare to adopt for each of these three cases? Let's find out together.

Among the many roles of the skin, there is also the one of visually communicating to us if something in our body is wrong: a skin reaction can be a sign of an internal dysfunction, or a simple response to an external agent. Think of all those allergic reactions that manifest themselves on the skin, with a variety of visual indicators that can range from a simple localized redness to cracking, blistering or wounds.

It is a clear sign that something is wrong, and that there is something to be better evaluated: perhaps in the cosmetics we use, or perhaps in our diet. But how do we distinguish between the two? We often get confused by thinking that reactive skin, sensitive skin and allergy-prone skin are three different ways of saying the same thing: a skin type that is generally more problematic than average, requesting some extra attention.

But the reality is that these three definitions describe three different conditions. Sensitive skin, reactive skin and allergic skin are three different situations, the causes of which need to be identified in order to be able to treat them in the most appropriate way.

In the following paragraph we will try to shed some light on these three situations: what are these three types of skin, how to identify them and how to treat them?

Let's start with sensitive skin.

Sensitive skin is a permanent condition of the skin, whereby the skin reacts to both internal and external factors with feelings of discomfort, redness or itching. These reactions with time can become a constant chronic condition of the skin. Among the external factors we can classify exposure to UV rays, temperature change, the use of unsuitable cosmetics. Among the internal factors there is, for example, high emotional stress. On a medical level, sensitive skin has not yet been fully codified, it is believed that a large part of the world's population has sensitive skin, but studies on what this entails and how it originates are still in the making. It is believed that sensitive skin may be the result of particularly sensitive nerve endings on the skin, which react more intensely to "regular" stimuli.

How to take care of sensitive skin? Sensitive skin is reddened or subject to discomfort and itching, not occasionally but almost permanently, so it is important to adopt a special skincare that is designed on the type of sensitive skin. First of all, excluding all products that could be a trigger for redness and discomfort, such as active ingredients too aggressive, too strong surfactants in detergents and added fragrances. Using the wrong cosmetics can often lead to flare-ups in sensitive skin, so it's important to take an extra moment to select the products you use. Sensitive skin will benefit from an effective yet gentle cleanser, moisturizing, restorative and soothing products that are able to preserve its barrier and keep it intact, so that external factors have less influence on its health. To keep the skin barrier intact, it is also necessary to preserve the microbiota that inhabits it, taking care of the bacteria responsible for the health of our skin. This is possible both through cosmetics and daily supplements.

Similar, but not identical, is reactive skin.

It might seem a very similar type to the previous one, but intolerant or reactive skin constitutes a category of its own. While sensitive skin is more of a way of being of the skin, a characteristic of the skin, reactive skin enacts "reactions" limited to very specific stimuli, and isolated in time. In short, it reacts to a precise trigger. To stimulate an intolerant reaction of the skin can be external factors, such as temperature change or the use of unsuitable cosmetic products, and internal factors, such as the intake of foods that trigger a reaction, such as alcohol and spicy food (which in many cases are a flare-up element for problems such as rosacea). Stress and strong emotions can also originate a skin reaction. The points of contact with sensitive skin are many, but these are two distinct conditions.

How to take care of reactive skin? It is necessary to choose a routine free of ingredients-triggers for intolerant reactions. Since some particularly aggressive ingredients, or surfactants that are too "degreasing" could be a reason for reaction, it's good to opt for essential skincare that abounds in restorative, soothing and highly tolerable ingredients, rather than trendy, fashionable ingredients. A gentle cleanser and a cream rich in restorative and protective ingredients are the most effective way to go. Avoiding alcohol, dyes and added fragrances in cosmetics will help us minimize opportunities for reaction.

Lastly, let's talk about allergy-prone skin.

This type of skin is typical of individuals who have allergies to specific factors and ingredients. These allergens can be found anywhere, they can be pollen in the air, ingredients in medications, certain foods, fabric and surface cleaning products, etc.

If an allergen has come into direct contact with the skin, then it will be referred to as a reaction such as contact dermatitis, which usually occurs within the next 24 hours. This reaction often consists of small wounds, widespread redness or blisters. The first thing to do is to consult an allergy doctor, to exclude from our diet and personal care all those ingredients that trigger an allergic reaction. Once the allergy test is performed, we will be able to isolate the main allergens to be eliminated.

How to take care of allergic skin? After ascertaining which allergens to avoid, it is good practice to use soothing and restorative cosmetics that protect the health of the skin without upsetting its pH and attacking its hydrolipidic barrier. Cosmetics in airless packaging, which keep the formula as "uncontaminated" as possible, are ideal. Eliminating harsh ingredients, fragrances and dyes is another wise choice to keep allergic skin in an optimal state and eliminate potential reasons for reactions.

Clinical tests conducted on Aeqium products have shown a very high tolerability and a great repairing and soothing power. Some numbers: the TEWL test reported 32% more skin well-being; the Compound test found a 44% increase in skin hydration; and the Lenitive test showed that in 15 minutes after application Aeqium face cream is able to act on present irritations and soothe the skin.

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