Sensitive Skin


Many people are affected by the redness, dry skin, acne, sunburn, hives and other bumps and blemishes caused by sensitive skin. The exact cause of the condition itself may vary, as some attribute certain symptoms to genetics, while others blame food, cosmetics and other environmental factors. Treating sensitive skin will depend on which symptoms are present, and may also be influenced by the cause of symptoms.

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Different signs and symptoms:

  • Tingling, tightening, cutaneous discomfort without visible signs.
  • Easily reacts to products
  • Overreaction to external factors: shaving, stress, aesthetic procedures,…
  • Diffuse redness, drying, recurrent irritation of the skin

What are the statistics?

  • 56% of Canadian women suffer from sensitive skin
  • 24% report having had a reaction to cosmetics products
  • 46.4% of women with sensitive skin also have dry skin
  • 46.3% of women with sensitive skin have consulted a dermatologist
Sensitive skin is often a marker for other skin conditions. Here are 3 profiles of intolerant or sensitive skin:

  1. Skin altered temporarily due to aesthetic or dermatological procedures
    • Mechanical procedures: shaving, waxing, medications (accutane, retin-a type creams)
    • Environment: heat, cold, wind, pollution,...
    • Aesthetic procedures: laser, chemical peels, dermabrasion
    • Dermatological solution:

    • - Avoid irritants, occlusive ointments
  2. Allergic skin or atopic skin
    • Contact dermatitis: Sudden appearance of erythema and edema (redness and swelling), accompanied by itchiness.
    • Atopic Ezema- a very common cause
    • Dermatological solution:

    • - Prevent dryness/moisturise
      - Topical corticosteroids
      - Topiocal immunomodulators
      - Antihistamines
      - Avoidance of the allergen
  3. Rosacea skin
    • Diffuse redness, small visible blood vessels, skin dryness
    • Dermatological solution:

    • - Medical therapy
      - Laser for redness
      - Changes in the patient’s lifestyle

Diffuse Redness:

A specific concern for women aged 25-35 years marked by a physical discomfort.
  • These women define themselves as being skin sensitive, and more precisely as having fine, fragile and reactive skins.
  • Overreacting to everything (emotions, temperatures changes, food…), they distinguish themselves by feeling uncomfortable socially and physically.

Almost 50 % of women aged 18-64 experience redness

Age         Percent of Women Whose Skin is Sensitive to Certain Factors

14-14             40%
18-24             49%
25-34             50%
35-44             44%
45-54             49%
55-64             46%
65+                34%


Source: L’Oréal Usage and Attitude Study , January 2003. N = 2689

At the dermatologist’s office:

Have already consulted a dermatologist :
  • Prone to redness            35.8 %
  • Acne-prone                   39.9 %
  • Couperose                     23.3 %
  • Rosacea                         13.3 %
Have already consulted a pharmacist:

  • Prone to redness            34.3 %
  • Acne-prone                    44.2 %
  • Couperose                     16.2 %
  • Rosacea                           8.4 %
Source: L’Oréal Canada study- January 2003 Usage and attitude – all ages

The Redness Evolves:

From redness to inflammatory rosacea

25+ years:     Fine and reactive skin, prone to redness 25-35 years:  Flushes 40+ years:     Permanent redness (erythro-coupoerose), visible blood vessels (telangiectasias) 50+ tears:      Inflammatory lesions (papules and pustules)

At the Dermatologist’s: Rosacea

Stage 1: Flushes and reactive skin
  • Redness appears very quickly, lasts a few minutes than disappears.
  • It is embarassing sometimes because it reveals feelings you would rather hide…
  • Starts as early as the teenage years.


  • Dermatological Advice:

  • Avoid hot liquids or food, cafeine, spices
  • Avoid intense physical exercise.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures (hot and cold) like saunas, jacuzzis
  • Always use sun protection.
  • Use rinse-free cleansers and perfume-free cosmetics.
  • Recommend the use of green-tinted concealers.
  • Avoid stressful situations
Stage 2: Erythro-couperose

  • The redness becomes permanent
  • Patients continue to experience flushing or blushing
  • Small veins become visible


  • Dermatological Treatment and Advice:

  • Medical Therapy: Laser treatments, electro-coagulation
  • Camouflage: make-up
  • Sun protection
Stage 3: Inflammatory rosacea
    Dermatological Treatment:

  • Cyclines
  • Metronidazole
Stage 4: Advanced rosacea
    Dermatological Treatment

  • Dermabrasion
  • Surgery

The origin of redness : A Vicious Circle

The time around the age of 25 years old can be the pivotal period for the onset of a vicious circle responsible for the development of redness:
  1. Repeated stress
  2. Inflammatory reaction
  3. Aggravation of vessel fragility

The risk

Redness takes hold and no longer disappears.

Delicate, reactive skin -> Erythrosis -> Rosacea

Recommendations for a Higher Quality of Life:

  • Diminish alcohol intake, spicy foods and caffeine


  • Avoid excessive variations in temperature


  • Use appropriate cleansers, moisturisers and cosmetics


  • Wear a concealer (in a green shade) to mask redness


  • Control and manage stress as much as possible


  • Always wear UVA/UVB protection.