Why does irritation happen?
Eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis... all are common skin conditions which occur due to a disrupted skin barrier.
The most superficial layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is formed of dehydrated cells to create a hostile environment for foreign microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) to live. Alongside this, sebum & sweat coats skin with protective chemicals and makes skin pH slightly acidic to minimise risk of infection. Lastly, the skin has natural flora - our own bacterial guardians which live in harmony on our skin’s surface, they prevent foreign microbes from settling and damaging skin (infections).
When the skin barrier is compromised however, visible redness, dryness and irritation to certain areas of the skin occurs and we risk infection due to exposure of deeper skin layers where blood vessels and inflammatory cells exist, but also more nutrients for dangerous microbes to utilise.
Damage to our skin barrier can be caused by physical injury (cuts, wounds or burns), chemical injury (contact with irritant substances), poor skin maintenance (lack of moisturisation for example), autoimmune damage, or symptoms worsened by psychological stress.
How is skin affected?
Contact dermatitis is caused by physical contact with an irritant e.g. certain types of soap can be irritating to certain people. Eczema and psoriasis are autoimmune conditions which indicate a biological issue of different aspects of the epidermis which can often be triggered by irritating agents. Rosacea is often seen in fair skinned people and appears as a central facial rash often triggered by blushing, alcohol and stress, and is a disorder of blood vessels and sebaceous glands.
How can I protect my sensitive skin?
In each of these sensitive conditions, control of symptoms is the mainstay of treatment. Many flares are triggered by soaps as these are used daily and often contain irritating perfumes and other ingredients. The British Association of Dermatologists recommends using emollients which are manufactured as soap substitutes for sensitive skin without harsh surfactants. There is now evidence that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and other harsh surfactants common in many body cleansers are damaging to the skin barrier and are an environmental factor that can exacerbate these conditions.
If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and contact dermatitis triggered by soaps, try to avoid natural soaps (which have variable molecular content and can be unpredictably irritating), perfumed cleansers, products containing SLS and sun overexposure. Always use gentle SLS & perfume free emollient washes and moisturisers to restore skin barrier, try paraffin-based products, use SPF 30+ daily and remember results may take 4-6 weeks to show due to length of skin cycle.
Our popular Repair Treatment is great for soothing & healing sore, damaged skin, including eczema and psoriasis, and can significantly speed up recovery times. It works by recruiting repairing factors and increasing oxygenation of the skin, increasing cell metabolism, boosting circulation and relieving discomfort.
If concerns persist, please seek advice from your GP or dermatologist. At inderma we use products suitable for sensitive skin – contact email@example.com for more information on our other effective treatments!
What is a tan?
A tan is the body producing melanin to protect us from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanocytes are distributed throughout the dermis and by producing pigment cells (melanin) skin appearance darkens, indicating skin has been damaged and is attempting to prevent further injury.
Why are UV rays damaging?
UV rays are part of the light spectrum which is invisible to humans and is produced by sun rays and strong UV lightbulbs such as those in tanning beds. UVA & UVB radiation from the sun can penetrate the ozone layer and therefore those are the rays we should protect ourselves from outdoors, and tanning bed use is strongly discouraged as these harmful rays are amplified in that setting.
UVA is associated with accelerated skin aging as it penetrates deep into the dermis and damages collagen and elastin causing skin sagging, coarse wrinkle formation, hyperpigmentation and more worryingly, abnormal cell production due to oxidative stress. This is concerning as over time, more abnormal cells develop, and the body may fail to combat them with age, which leads to precancerous cell mutations and eventually skin cancer.
UVB radiation does not penetrate as deeply as UVA but is more strongly irradiating. UVB damages the nucleus of cells in the epidermis, causing direct damage to DNA, producing mutations. DNA repair enzymes exist in the body, but these enzymes also become less effective as we age, again leaving us at risk of developing precancerous cells and of potentially fatal skin cancers. This reduced natural protection with ageing is the reason many skin cancers are commoner in older people despite the damage occurring many years prior to diagnosis.
As we are exposed to both UVA & UVB even on cloudy days, it is important to protect our skin from the potentially catastrophic damage they can cause.
How do I protect my skin?
Use Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater with high UVA protection daily. By doing this you are shielding your exposed skin from UV damage giving it the best chance at being healthy throughout your lifetime. The higher the SPF you use, the more protected you will be, and as most people do not apply SPF generously enough, the higher the UV protection the better.
There are many affordable, high quality, well formulated sun creams available on the market which leave no white-cast. The best one for you? Whichever one you know you will use every day.
Can sun damage be reversed?
It is never too late to start protecting your skin with SPF 30+ (can be used instead of moisturiser if layering feels too thick) but there are ways to help sun damaged skin heal. Retinoids are ingredients which increase cell turnover and can help renew sun damaged and precancerous skin cells, but means tested retinoids are only available via prescription in the UK.
Chemical Peels are an excellent way of exfoliating top skin layers and encouraging cell turnover with repeated use and instant results, so are great for improving sun damaged skin with fine lines, wrinkles and dyspigmentation - no wonder they are our most popular treatment!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding our array of peels and facial treatments for sun damaged skin. If you have any further concerns regarding your skin such as abnormal moles, please visit your GP or dermatologist for further advice.