What Causes Dry and Sensitive Skin Conditions?

Dry and sensitive skin is usually attributed to cold weather or to harsh skin treatments. Many other factors, however, can wreak havoc on your skin and cause it to dry out or become red and irritated. Exposure to hot water, dry air, or inappropriate treatments for your skin type are all possible causes.

Generally, dry skin sufferers should apply moisturizer regularly, stay hydrated, and exfoliate occasionally. People with sensitive skin should use gentle cleansers and other skin care products formulated for sensitive skin. Dry and sensitive skin requires special care. Fortunately, there are several facial skin care treatments for healthier skin.

Alpha-hydroxy Acid

Dry skin sufferers can benefit from products containing alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or malic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids are effective exfoliants that help remove rough, dead cells that build up on skin. They can also reduce redness that can occur with sensitive skin.

Beta-Hydroxy Acid

Another type of exfoliant that's useful for dry skin is a beta-hydroxy acid called salicylic acid. Beta-hydroxy acid solutions can penetrate pores and remove the build-up of dead skin cells for a fresher appearance. For more severe conditions, a beta-hydroxy acid peel can be done. In a skin peel, a chemical is applied to purposefully irritate the skin, which then causes a healing process.

Retinol for Sensitive Skin

Retinol, also known as retinol A, is a form of vitamin A and has been used for many years to revitalize many skin types, particularly rough, aging skin. For severe conditions, a prescription retinol product may be needed. But most people with dry or sensitive skin can use retinol skin care and retinol eye care products.

Coenzyme Q10 for Dry Skin

Since dry and sensitive skin can be due to aging, coenzyme Q10, or coQ10, has been known to undo damage caused by free radicals. On a molecular level, free radicals deteriorate collagen and elastin, the building blocks of the skin, reducing its elasticity and making skin sag and wrinkle.

Wild Yam Extract

The wild yam (a separate species from edible yams) produces a root that is rich in diosgenin, a chemical with a structure similar to the hormone progesterone. Progesterone has a role in keeping skin healthy. Although diosgenin is not identical to human progesterone, some researchers claim it is an effective alternative for dry and sensitive skin. Those who use a cream that contains extract of wild yam over time have reported softer, more elastic skin and fewer wrinkles and fine lines. Women use these creams particularly around the neck and eyes, where wrinkles are more likely to occur.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin by neutralizing free radicals and increasing collagen synthesis. Topical vitamin C products also help protect skin against damage from sunlight and are recommended to use in addition to — but not in replacement of — sunscreen products. Another benefit of vitamin C skin products is their resistance to water and perspiration.

Vitamins and Supplements for Healthy Skin

It's important to know what vitamins and minerals are recommended for healthy skin and hair and overall health. Vitamins such as B, C, and E help stimulate hair growth, as will food supplements like extra protein and beta-carotene. Vitamin C is especially useful as an anti-aging vitamin as well as an antioxidant because it both boosts collagen production and defends the skin from the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is excellent against acne because it also acts as an antioxidant and may help reduce acne scarring. Weight loss vitamins include the B vitamins, which can improve metabolism, and the mineral zinc, which helps control appetite.

Antioxidants

We have mentioned antioxidants several times in relation to skin care and anti-aging regimens, but what are they and what do they do? Antioxidants destroy free radicals, which are molecules with incomplete electron shells that cause a chemical reaction with molecules whose electron shells are completely formed. Free radicals are found in the environment. This sounds complicated, but what you really want to know is that dry and sensitive skin can be caused or worsened by free radicals, so your skin needs antioxidants as protection.

Natural antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables and other food groups such as nuts, grains, fish, and poultry. Topical anti-aging products containing antioxidants can also provide protection against environmental damage to skin and slow down the effects of aging.

Frequently Asked Questions 


Is sensitive or dry skin curable?

Should dry skin be treated the same as sensitive skin?

Can retinol be used for either sensitive or dry skin?

How do I know if I have sensitive or dry skin?

What causes sensitive or dry skin?

What kind of natural products are available to help my skin?

How can I prevent damage caused by free radicals?

I've heard antioxidants mentioned frequently in regard to skin care. Where can I find them?

How can a vitamin C serum or vitamin C cream help my dry skin?

Can I combine different skin care products for maximum benefit?


Is sensitive or dry skin curable?
Sensitive or dry skin typically results from a combination of genetics, environment, and other factors. Some you can prevent, like excess sun exposure and dehydration, and some can only be minimized, such as irritation resulting from extreme temperatures. But there is no single proven cure for either condition.

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Should dry skin be treated the same as sensitive skin?
Each skin condition should be addressed differently. For example, beta-hydroxy acid is preferable for sensitive skin types rather than for dry skin types. And some alpha-hydroxy products, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid, are ideal for dry skin problems.

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Can retinol be used for either sensitive or dry skin?
Retinol, which is successful for those looking to minimize the signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines, can be used for either skin type. Some experimentation may be necessary to determine if retinol, also known as retinol A, is the most appropriate solution.

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How do I know if I have sensitive or dry skin?
Dry skin is typically evident if you have rough or flaky areas on your skin. Sensitive skin usually involves redness, itching or similar irritation. A dermatologist is the best bet for determining which skin type you have.

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What causes sensitive or dry skin?
Dry skin is caused by extreme temperatures, air conditioning and heating systems, prolonged exposure to hot water, dehydration, and genetic makeup. Sensitive skin can result from reaction to harsh or incorrect skin treatments, sun exposure, and irritation caused by pollution or detergents.

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What kind of natural products are available to help my skin?
Wild yam extract is a natural ingredient available in many skin care products. The diosgenin in wild yam extract closely resembles natural progesterone, which is thought to be more easily processed by your body and thus benefit your skin. A wild yam extract or natural progesterone cream can fight wrinkles and minimize fine lines.

Vitamins found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and other food groups can also maintain healthy skin. Vitamin supplements like B, C, and E are also available and often found in hair vitamin, anti-aging vitamin, and acne vitamin products.

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How can I prevent damage caused by free radicals?
Coenzyme Q10 is helpful in fighting free radical damage, which can lead to wrinkles and decreased elasticity in the skin. Vitamin C serum and vitamin C creams can also neutralize free radicals and improve collagen production for dry and sensitive skin types.

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I've heard antioxidants mentioned frequently in regard to skin care. Where can I find them?
Natural antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, and other food groups that are part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Antioxidants are also available in supplements and in skin care products designed to treat dry and sensitive skin.

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How can a vitamin C serum or vitamin C cream help my dry skin?
Vitamin C is a helpful ingredient in skin care products for sensitive and dry skin types. Those with dry skin will benefit the most from vitamin C serums while sensitive skin types should opt for gentler vitamin C creams. Topical vitamin C is most beneficial for correcting both skin types from damage resulting from sun exposure.

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Can I combine different skin care products for maximum benefit?
Retinol, specifically, should only be used by itself. Alpha-hydroxy acid or beta-hydroxy acid should not be combined, even if applied at different times of the day. Some skin care manufacturers will recommend using another product from the same product line like a cleanser or moisturizer. Your dermatologist or skin care practitioner will know best what dry or sensitive skin care products can be used together and how frequently they should be applied.

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