The Do's & Don'ts of Sensitive Skin

Many of my patients have a variety of questions regarding their skin care, especially those with sensitive skin. I recently sat down with my colleague Dr. Bobby Buka, section chief of the department of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and discussed various steps you can take to improve your skin's health AND appearance if you have sensitive skin.

Don't over do it! Dr. Buka feels a balance of skin care products is the key and not to "overdo it" with too many different lotions and facial care treatments - especially if you have sensitive skin. "Too many of my patients end up with 'itchy red bump syndrome,' a condition that results from putting too much stuff on your face," says Dr. Buka. He further explained how the skin's delicate balance can be upset by well-intentioned patients who apply more than 3 products to the face at the same time. His rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 items per application. Your skin can't possibly absorb more than 3 products anyway, so Dr. Bukka says chill out, 2-3 targeted items to the skin's surface are plenty.

Some patients who also have seasonal or year-round allergies, as well as sinus problems, may also experience below eyelid puffiness or "shiners" that can wreak havoc with your appearance. When those affected are actually tested, many individuals have allergies as well as possible contact or skin allergy to products used in the eyelid and facial areas. Covering up these dark circles with facial cosmetics (foundation, etc.) won't fix the problem. Dr. Buka and I often collaborate to develop a long-term solutions patients with sensative skin-related issues.

Drink up!Finally, stay hydrated - this means what may seem like a massive amount of water each day - 8 glasses! So drink up, your skin and (your internal organs) will thank you for it. But sensitive skin or not, protection against UV rays remains the single most important thing you can do to protect your skin and delay the signs of aging! Dr. Buka and I recommend SPF 30 or higher for patients - not only when planning to spend the day outside, but also as part of their daily skin regimen. So get out there and take charge of your sensitive skin care for optimal health, and look better!

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett

is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.