“Doctor, how can I handle breakouts at home? What is skin care routine for sensitive skin?”

Sensitive skin deserves “minimum experimentation” and “maximum care”. Wondering how this can be achieved? This duo is possible, only if you stick to the product that suits your skin and follow certain lifestyle changes. However, if your skin still breakouts, a lot can be done at your end at home. This article will help you understand how to handle breakouts at home and what skin care routine is recommended for sensitive skin.

How can I handle breakouts at home?

Each time you get redness, burning or irritation, your skin is crying out loud “Do not irritate me, leave me alone.”

  • Discontinue all the skin care products, cosmetics, and prescribed/not prescribed medicines.
  • Skin care at such times involves washing with non-soap cleansers meant for sensitive skin followed by a bland moisturiser without any active ingredients.
  • Alternatively, if your skin is not acne prone, milk can be used as a cleanser.
  • Protect your skin from sun exposure preferably by covering your face with thick cloth in the mid-day sun. If above regime does not help, seek appointment of your dermatologist.

What is the skin care routine for sensitive skin?

Follow the steps given below to calm your sensitive skin:

STEP 1 Face Wash:

A right type of cleanser that does not irritate your sensitive skin is essential. Liquid cleansers that match pH of skin should be chosen. Alkaline bar soaps may increase pH and make your skin more sensitive. Prefer cleansers that do not foam much because they are free of harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl/ Laureth sulphate. Restrict cleansing to once (in dry skin) or twice (in the oily skin) a day because overzealous cleansing can perturb the barrier of skin allowing irritants to penetrate easily.  After washing, pat dry your face to avoid friction from rubbing, which in turn can provoke inflammation.

STEP 2 Day cream with SPF:

Though people with sensitive skin need to protect their skin from the sun, most of the regular sunscreens might not suit them. If possible, avoiding stepping out in bright sun and covering your face with thick cloth is recommended.  Prefer physical sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium oxide rather than chemical sunscreen.

STEP 3 Night Cream:

You should look for anti-inflammatory ingredients in your night cream like:

  • Aloe vera
  • Arctiumlappa (burdock root)
  • Chamomile
  • Cucumber
  • Dexpanthenol (provitamin B5)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra( liquorice extract)
  • Niacinamide
  • Red algae
  • Rose water
  • Silymarin
  • Sulfacetamide
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc

Check out, the list of products that are less likely to irritate your sensitive skin.

Kindly note that even these ingredients might not suit you, once your skin is sensitive. We have encountered patients who developed redness after applying pure aloe vera. We advise you to do a patch test before you start using any new product. A patch test can be done by applying a small amount of product on temple every night for at least five nights. And look for redness, burning, itching, or rash over next 48 hours.

STEP 4 Exfoliation:

Scrubs might cause micro-trauma and induce inflammation in the sensitive skin; so preferably avoid them especially when your skin is irritatedGentle scrubs meant for daily use can be used once a week or chemical peels can be tried, only under the supervision of a dermatologist. Among peels, milder agents like lactic acid or mandelic acid are preferred. Peels done once in a month by an experienced dermatologist is an excellent way to remove dead skin layer and rejuvenate your sensitive skin.

STEP 5 Face pack:

A right kind of face pack with soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients (as tabulated under night cream section) might help in reducing breakouts.

When should I visit Dermatologist?

People with sensitive skin should always visit their Dermatologist to understand the cause and also for recommendations on an appropriate skin care regime. Re-visit is needed if:

  • There is persistent redness, burning or irritation of the skin that does not subside even after removing the triggers.
  • If your skin is developing red bumps or pimples, that fail to resolve with above measures.
  • If sensitive skin is due to rosacea, regular check ups are required as directed by a physician.
  • Any severe outbreak of sensitive skin should ideally be reported to a physician for understanding the reason behind it and for the treatment.
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