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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Do You Have Sensitive Skin?

You are probably familiar with skin care products that are labeled "hypoallergenic," "safe for sensitive skin," or "allergy tested." Just what is sensitive skin, and who has it? You might be surprised to know that sensitive skin has no medical definition and there are no federal standards or requirements for a product to be labeled "hypoallergenic." The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Yet, over 50 percent of consumers consider themselves to have sensitive skin.

    Dermatologists generally consider skin to be sensitive if it is prone to itching and becomes irritated in response to changes in temperature or when using common skin care products that most other skin types can tolerate. However, many people think they have sensitive skin when it is more likely that they are overusing too many products, treating their skin too harshly, or reacting to only certain ingredients in a skin-care product.
    If normal products cause stinging, redness, rashes, itching, or irritation, then your skin requires some extra care and protection. Once you figure out what chemical or ingredient is irritating your skin, managing sensitive skin is not difficult. Use the right products, avoid irritants, and cultivate good habits to keep your skin healthy and comfortable

Choose the right products
• Opt for scent-free products, including laundry detergent.
• Skip products containing dyes. Many body-care products such as lotion, soap, and shampoo contain harsh dyes to make them look more appealing.
• Avoid acidic products which are often found in cleansers and can cause flare-ups. Check the ingredients list and avoid those that list alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, ascorbic acid, kojic acid, or boric acid.
• Stay away from cosmetics, cleaning products, and even medications that contain ethanol (or “ethyl alcohol”). Cetyl, stearyl, lanolin, and cetearyl alcohols are known as “fatty alcohols” and are more gentle on skin, but determine for yourself if you react to a product containing any of these.
• Protect your skin from other chemical products. Acetate is present in nail polish remover and hair dye, sulfates may be found in shampoo and household products, and hydroquinone is a chemical used for bleaching or skin lightening. These ingredients aren’t inherently unhealthy, but may be irritating to sensitive skin.
• Use moisturizer with soothing ingredients such as aloe, jojoba, or chamomile.

• Wear sunscreen every day. The chemical sunscreen filters used in most sunscreens may cause irritation, so look for one with SPF of 30 or higher that uses the mineral-based ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and is free from any fragrance or dye. These deflect the sun’s rays before they ever penetrate the skin and are non-irritating.
• Wear clothing made of natural materials like cotton, silk, or wool. Synthetic fibers like rayon and spandex are more likely to irritate skin.
• Wear metal with caution. Nickel is the metal most commonly responsible for causing allergic reactions and is present in many pieces of jewelry as well as on the buttons or snaps of some clothing. Copper can also cause skin reactions like itching and redness, as can gold.
• Cover your skin in extreme weather — either very cold or very hot. When it’s hot, wear a hat, sunglasses, and light-colored, loose clothing.

Change daily habits
• Take warm, rather than hot, baths and showers and try to keep it to five to ten minutes. Avoid rubbing your skin dry with a towel and instead gently pat your skin dry.
• Don't scrub your skin with a harsh exfoliate or rough washcloth.
• Don’t use hair-removing creams or depilatories.
• Apply moisturizer while your skin is still a little damp.
• Rinse off any chlorine from swimming pools and be careful if swimming in lake water.
• Always wash new clothing before wearing as they are often treated with chemical preservatives.

    Sometimes your best efforts and careful attention aren’t enough to figure out what is irritating your skin, or how to avoid it. See a dermatologist if you have skin irritation that causes you discomfort or is getting worse. A dermatologist will want to rule out more serious skin issues like eczema or psoriasis. While recognizing what irritates your skin can involve some detective work, managing sensitive skin doesn’t have to be difficult.

    For more information, you may contact the Dermatology and Mohs Surgery Institute at 309-451-DERM (3376) dermatologistbloomington.com. Dr. Leone and Dr. Schupbach, both residents of Bloomington, are board-certified dermatologists, specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology, including the treatment of skin cancer, moles, acne, rashes, warts, and all skin disorders. Dr. Leone is one of the few Mohs-trained surgeons in the area. Their practice is located at 3024 E. Empire St. 2nd floor, in the Advocate BroMenn outpatient center.


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