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How to Care for Your Sensitive Skin

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How to Care for Your Sensitive Skin Three-quarters of my patients call their skin sensitive,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “and treating skin too aggressively is one main reason why.” Even if you’re not intending to, you could be overwhelming your skin: The average woman uses 12 different products with 168 unique ingredients every day, according to research from the Environmental Working Group in Washington D.C. All that on top of the usual stressors—pollution, hormonal changes, anxiety—and it’s no wonder derms are seeing an increase in sensitive skin complaints such as breakouts, redness, rashes, and extreme dryness. Need relief? Check out these strategies for calming your complexion

Think you’ve got them? When you see blood vessels, bumps, enlarged oil glands, and thick skin on the nose, cheeks, and chin, all signs point to rosacea, a condition that affects more than 16 million Americans. People with rosacea flush easily, thanks to facial blood vessels that become dilated, drawing blood closer to the surface, says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami and author of The Skin Type Solution.

What to do: Seek out soothing soap-free ingredients that also act as anti-inflammatories, such as licorice, algae, and colloidal oatmeal. Forgo rough facials, steer clear of spa treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion, and avoid acidic skin-care ingredients, including glycolic acid and, surprisingly, vitamin C. Tweaking your diet may help, too. While spicy foods can exacerbate redness, “eating foods rich in probiotics—such as yogurt with live cultures—can prevent skin sensitivity, redness, and itching by blocking the release of inflammation-causing chemicals,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.

How to Care for Your Sensitive Skin

Think you’ve got them? Skin freak-outs that arrive at lightning speed are typically an immune response to something that doesn’t agree with your system, says Neal Schultz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and creator of the skin-care line Beauty Rx. Constantly flaring up? That’s often caused by genetic abnormalities in your skin’s barrier function, according to research from the University of Vienna and the University of California, San Francisco. Translation: If Mom’s skin erupts when exposed to certain products, yours could, too.

What to do: Ease symptoms with a homemade milk compress: Soak a cloth in equal parts warm water and milk, then place on irritated areas. Aloe and over-the-counter cortisone cream are also helpful. Sidestep sugary foods, which have been linked to inflammation, and toss more zinc-rich items (beans, cashews) into your grocery cart.

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