What to Avoid With Sensitive Skin

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Washing Dishes using gloves

Sensitive skin can take many forms. Sometimes, it will be a simple case of irritation; other times, it could be a serious outbreak of eczema with severe itching, redness, and even bleeding. Even more, it’s difficult to identify the triggers that might bring about flare-ups.

But there are things you can avoid to minimize irritating sensitive skin. The first thing you should do is visit your dermatologist to see if there is any underlying medical cause for your skin issue. In the meantime, stay away from the following.

  • Avoid scented laundry products. Although the smell of clean laundry can be refreshing, chemicals found in laundry detergent can cause irritation for those with sensitive skin. Look for detergent and dryer sheets that are free of dyes and fragrance. As a side benefit, these types of products are often better for the environment. Other triggers to avoid when it comes to clothes are brand-new clothes that haven’t been washed (especially those that are heavy with dyes). New clothes may contain formaldehyde or other chemicals. Natural fibers such as 100 percent wool can also irritate sensitive skin.

  • Perfumes, bath bubbles, or scented lotions. When in doubt, read the ingredients on your cleaners and soaps, and keep it simple. Avoid using spray perfumes and body splashes; instead, consider using natural oils.

  • Prolonged exposure to water. It would seem as though moisture would be a good thing, but too much water from a long bath or swim can cause skin flare-ups. Take short baths and keep the temperature lukewarm—high temperatures and sudden changes in temperature can exacerbate or trigger eczema flare-ups.

  • Reduce stress. People tend to experience higher incidences of eczema and rosacea when under stress. Introduce a relaxation technique into your daily life, such as meditation, yoga, or walking. With increased physical activity, be careful about sweating too much, which can irritate sensitive skin, too.

If you do have a prolonged, unexplained rash or irritation, it’s always best to visit your doctor. Some forms of eczema, like atopic dermatitis, may require prescription creams and medications.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 May 31
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