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!