Is your skin prone to redness, swelling and pain? Does it sometimes (or almost always) feel tight and itchy? Does it start to tingle and flake if you use certain skincare products?
Then you have what's known as a 'sensitive skin'. In addition to these symptoms, your skin will also experience increased heat and a loss of cell function.
Though some of us are predisposed to this skin condition via our genetic makeup, dermatologists are reporting that they are seeing more and more women with sensitive skin, and the thinking is that our diets, stress, harsh products - including potent exfoliants and cosmetics containing strong chemicals - are also contributing to the 'sensitive skin epidemic'.
Fragrances added to cosmetic products are also a regular cause of sensitive skin as they cause allergies in some people.
There may be many reasons why skin cells become over-sensitive.
According to skin specialist Dr Ernst Eiselen, MBChB, FRACGP, severe skin sensitivity can occur due to an increased tendency of skin cells to release molecules causing inflammation.
Physical triggers include sunlight, cold, heat and various chemicals in the world around us that can all cause an inflammatory reaction.
What to do?
The best way to address this common condition is to slowly increase exposure to vitamin A and antioxidants.
Then, in the process, we improve the barrier function and natural resilience of the skin with the result of less inflammation and skin sensitivity.