Why Has My Skin Become Sensitive All of a Sudden?

Have you recently noticed your skin turning into a battleground of reactions? Is your once-placid complexion now flaring up at your go-to beauty products? You’re not alone. Suddenly sensitive skin can perplex anyone. Here’s a breakdown of why it might be happening and what you can do about it.

Understanding Sudden Skin Sensitivity: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions photo by tessa terrus

It’s not you, it’s your skin barrier

We often label our skin as either ‘sensitive’ or ‘resilient’, but that’s a misunderstanding. Skin sensitivity isn’t a fixed trait; rather, it reflects a temporary state of your skin barrier. If your skin is suddenly reacting, there’s a chance your skin barrier may not be in its healthiest state.

When chronic skin conditions play a role

Sensitive skin can sometimes be a symptom of underlying skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. However, it’s also possible that external factors are causing havoc on your skin barrier.

The impact of external factors

Over-washing, over-exfoliating, exposure to harsh weather conditions or too many potential irritants can damage the skin barrier. Even if you’ve been engaging in these habits for years without issues, there might come a time when your skin can’t bounce back as quickly, leading to a ‘leaky’ skin barrier. This weakened barrier can cause dryness, flaking, and inflammation.

Some medications that we take can also impact our skin barrier. 

Reactions to skincare products

Even your trusted skincare routine can become problematic. If you’ve been using a product for years without issues, that doesn’t guarantee it’ll always be safe for your skin. In fact, with allergic reactions, your skin needs exposure to an allergen more than once before showing visible signs of a reaction. Also, if your skin barrier is compromised, you’re more likely to react to any ingredient, natural or synthetic, regardless of how often you used it in the past.

Recognizing and responding to sensitive skin

If you notice signs of skin sensitivity like dryness, flaking, redness, itchiness, breakouts, swelling, or stinging, take a step back. Minimize the number of products and ingredients that touch your skin and limit procedures, including washing, when your skin isn’t actually dirty. This rest period allows your skin barrier to heal.

You can then reintroduce your skincare products one by one, watching for any return of symptoms. This method was created by Canadian dermatologist Dr. Sandy Skotnicki and has helped thousands of people all over the world solve their skin sensitivity issues. 

If you suspect an allergic reaction or your skin irritation is severe, it’s essential to consult with a dermatologist. And remember, some ingredients are more likely to cause reactions than others, so be mindful of the ingredients to avoid when you have skin sensitivity. Learn more about what skincare ingredients to avoid if you are experiencing skin sensitivity here

Choose your products based on actives

WIMJ Search allows you to select skincare products based on what’s inside. Filter products by actives included, and exclude ingredients you don’t want. Check the concentration of ingredients and potential irritants.

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About The Author

Maria Semykoz

Science communicator. Co-founder at WIMJ