What To Do When Your Skin Is Irritated
Irritated skin will happen to everyone at some point, and can be caused by a myriad of different things. Trying to determine what caused your skin to become irritated is just half the battle. After determining the cause you then have to figure out what unique solution will help soothe the irritation.
Here we will discuss the most common causes of skin irritation, how to identify it, and most importantly how to treat it.
How to Treat Raw, Dry Patches of Skin
For those with sensitive skin, it’s not uncommon to experience a flare-up of irritation as the weather changes. Excessive wind and dry weather in the wintertime or overexposure to the sun during the warm summer months can result in raw, dry patches of skin. Overwashing your face or using harsh exfoliants can also cause this type of irritation.
If you are experiencing raw, dry patches of skin you should first apply a soothing moisturizer to the area. Be sure to look for products that contain ingredients such as ceramides, antioxidants or licorice extract. After applying your moisturizer follow up with a small drop of 1 percent hydrocortisone cream. Do this twice a day for up to two weeks. Hydrocortisone constricts blood vessels in order to clear up redness, so it’s important to stop using it consistently after two weeks because overuse can cause more redness by creating more blood vessels. If there are still no signs of improvement after those two weeks it is time to go see a dermatologist and get a stronger prescription!
As your skin is healing, you should also stop using harsh products, as these can cause more irritation and make things worse. Allow your skin to heal completely and slowly introduce them back into your routine. Use it once or twice a week and apply over a thin layer of moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out and slowing down absorption.
How to Treat Itchy, Inflamed Patches of Skin
If your skin is feeling itchy, hot to the touch, red, and/or inflamed you are most likely experiencing contact dermatitis. People get contact dermatitis when they come in contact (get it?) with something that they are allergic to. The most common skincare ingredients that can cause irritation are fragrances, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde resins in certain nail polishes and lip liners. You can also get contact dermatitis from jewelry or irritating fabrics in clothing.
Dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Amy Wechsler, and Jeannette Graf explain to Allure Magazine what you should do if you start experiencing contact dermatitis. “Start by applying a cold milk compress to the area for about ten minutes; the anti-inflammatory molecules in the dairy fat will help settle things down,” explain the dermatologists. “Then treat any remaining rash by gently dabbing a 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment on the area twice a day. Ointments are generally preservative-free and therefore less irritating than creams. If your skin is blistered or open, you'll also need to apply an antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, twice a day to avoid infection. And before bed, take some Benadryl. Oral Benadryl can quell any itching or swelling. To figure out what you're reacting to and need to avoid, make an appointment with a dermatologist for patch testing.”
What to Avoid
According to the American Academy of Dermatology these are things you should avoid doing if you are experiencing skin irritation;
- Bathe with lukewarm – not hot – water. Try to limit your bath or shower to just 10 minutes.
- Always use “fragrance-free” lotions, soaps and detergents to minimize irritation. Be wary of products labeled “unscented,” as they might still have chemicals that can irritate your skin.
- As directed by your dermatologist, apply medications before moisturizing. Then, apply your moisturizer to all areas of your skin, including areas treated with medication.
- Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Wool and other rough-feeling fabrics can irritate your skin, causing intense itching.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. Maintain a relatively cool, neutral humidity environment in your house. Use a humidifier during the winter if you are prone to dry skin and eczema.
- Reduce stress, as stress can make your itch worse.
Now you know what you should and shouldn’t do if you are experiencing skin irritation. If the irritation persists for longer than a couple of weeks or gets worse you should go see a board-certified dermatologist for further treatment options.
Steven Wang, MD and Gui Wang, LAc have been working together for over 20 years to provide potent, herbal remedies for spas and individuals around the world. The father-son duo mixes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with cutting edge scientific advances with the aim of bringing relief, comfort, and happiness to our customers. Our products are the result of decades of dedicated research.
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