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When Your Loved One Has Sensitive Skin


Jennifer Larson

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.


Recent research has uncovered some surprising information about sensitive skin.

What to Avoid With Sensitive Skin

It’s difficult to identify the triggers that might bring about sensitive skin flare-ups. Try these tips to minimize irritations.

Perhaps you don’t have sensitive skin. But your spouse does. Or another relative, maybe an elderly parent, who lives with you, has sensitive skin. Babies and children can and often do have sensitive skin, too. It can be tricky to care for, but it’s worth making the effort.

Sensitive skin can be easily irritated, which can cause discomfort or pain. And in elderly people, sensitive skin may be more likely to break down and cause sores or wounds that can get easily infected.

When your child has sensitive skin, it can be hard to protect him or her from rashes and discomfort—but with the right tools, you can help find relief.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 28, 2017

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Avoid triggers.

If your loved one has sensitive skin, you may want to inventory all the products in your household that might be problematic. For example, people with sensitive skin often need to shy away from products that are heavily scented or contained additional artificial fragrances.

Examine these household products to see if you might need to switch to a different version that’s kinder to sensitive skin:

  • Laundry detergent. It doesn’t matter how good your clothes, towels and sheets smell if the laundry detergent makes your loved one’s skin itchy and blotchy. If your laundry detergent contains a lot of fragrance, you may want to switch to a scent-free version. Some companies also make dye-free version that can be less irritable, too.

  • Hand soap. Harsh chemicals or a heavy scent in soap can be very irritating, especially if your loved one has to wash their hands frequently. Switch to a milder version. This also goes for other products like sunscreen or cosmetics.

  • Cleaning products. Cleaning products can be full of harsh chemicals, so it may be time to switch to versions that are less potentially irritating.

Of course, there are other potential triggers that you may to watch out for, too. Some people find that certain spices can irritate their skin while others know that a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage is a no-no for them.

Develop strategies to protect sensitive skin.

Most people with sensitive skin find it’s necessary to develop strategies to help them protect their skin. You can help your loved one by developing those kinds of strategies and then reminding them to be proactive. To paraphrase that old expression, an ounce of prevention can often be worth a pound of cure.

Try some of these strategies:

  • Cover up. Suggest wearing a hat and loose clothing to protect sensitive skin when outside in the sun.

  • Plan your time outside carefully. Heat and wind can both be irritating to sensitive skin, so you might want to monitor the weather report if you’re planning some time outside together.

  • Cut back on the hot showers. A long hot shower or leisurely soak in a bathtub full of hot water might not be very relaxing to someone whose skin is easily irritated. A shorter shower or bath with warm water is a better option, and it’s less likely to strip oils from the skin.

  • Use gentle moisturizer. Dry skin might feel much better with a light coating of a gentle moisturizer. Aging skin also tends to be thinner and drier, so an application of moisturizer after a shower or bath can also go a long way towards soothing any itching or irritation.

  • Wear gloves when cleaning or handling substances that can be irritating. People with sensitive skin don’t have to completely avoid cleaning, but putting a layer of protection between their hands and those cleaning agents can make a big difference.

Rule out allergies or other skin conditions.

It’s possible your loved one just has sensitive skin. But it’s also possible they have an allergy that causes skin irritation, like eczema or hives. With eczema, the skin can also be red, itchy or dry. Hives, or urticaria, also develop in response to an allergen and can show up as red welts or bumps.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 16, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Allergic Skin Conditions. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
  2. Contact Dermatitis. Mayo Clinic.
  3. Lev-Tov H, Maibach HI. The Sensitive Skin Syndrome. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2012;57(6):419-423.
  4. Moisturizers: Options for softer skin. Mayo Clinic.
  5. Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology.
  6. Saving face 101: How to customize your skin care routine with your skin type. Nov. 10, 2009. American Academy of Dermatology.

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