Dr. Perricone Discusses

Taking Care of Sensitive Skin

Learn what treatments work best to address sensitivity and other ways to calm irritaed skin

A number of my patients, viewers and readers have sensitive skin. Unfortunately, many of the therapeutic strategies developed to treat skin problems that accrue with age, sun damage, poor diet and environmental factors cannot be used.

But what exactly is sensitive skin? And perhaps more importantly, are there effective topical treatments that can be safely applied to this type of skin?

Identifying Sensitive Skin
When the majority of people refer to the term "sensitive skin" they are generally referring to skin that is sensitive to outside influences. These influences can include the environment, weather conditions (excessive heat, cold, wind, low humidity, high humidity, etc, pollution, harsh chemicals, irritating topical products and soaps, all of which can act as allergens and/or irritants, often resulting in what dermatologists refer to as atopic dermatitis. The skin experiences an inflammatory response that can result in itching, redness, dryness, etc.

In my practice, the majority of women reported sensitive skin had a history of using too many topical products resulting in a host of problems.

Used by the average person to say that they react to the environment, soaps, topicals usually we say atopic dermatitis where skin is sensitive to different allergens or they may have a baseline of dryness so any cleanser causes an irritant rather than allergic dermatitis when I talk to patients in my office 80 % of women report that they have sensitive skin what they are really describing is that they get irritated easily usually they are using too many topicals, toner, skin treatments, sunscreens and so forth, which ends up creating a host of problems.

The Good News
No Perricone article would be complete with a focus on dietary solutions for those with sensitive skin. As is often the case, these dietary suggestions work for everyone - but are particularly germane to those with extra sensitivity.

Eat foods that contain healthy fats such as cold water fish (salmon, sardines, trout, herring, etc.) nuts, seeds (providing you have no allergies) avocados, olives and extra virgin olive oil. Also include quality protein at each meal so that the cells in the body can repair themselves - without adequate protein we experience cellular breakdown. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar, sweeteners, flour, baked goods, pasta, etc. Enjoy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants. Drink 6-8 glasses of pure spring water daily.

Even More Good News
Keep it simple. Choose very mild cleansers, non-detergent soaps, use fat-soluble treatment products and moisturizers that are antioxidant rich to act as natural anti-inflammatories. Choose your product lines wisely, ensuring that they are formulated by reputable scientists choosing only the highest quality ingredients.

I have spent many years researching the best topical remedies for sensitive skin. Not surprisingly, the key ingredients come from a food - in this case the olive.

Olive trees can live up to 1,000 years, which may well explain their long standing reputation as an elixir of eternal youth and beauty. Extra virgin olive oil has proven healing properties when taken internally, and it has been used topically as an emollient since the time of ancient Rome. In the Roman baths, olive oil was an integral part of health and beauty rituals. The Romans massaged olive oil into the skin and desquamated off with a curved bone spatula, called a strigil. Since the oil was never rinsed off, Romans are recorded to have had skin that was beautiful, thanks to olive oil's powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The polyphenols that are found abundantly in olive oil are extremely efficient and multi-faceted antioxidants. Polyphenols are exceptionally stable and protective. The most powerful member of the Olive Oil Polyphenol group is Hydroxytyrosol. Extremely rare, and effective in even small concentrations, this super antioxidant, anti-inflammatory has been proven to be effective in improving general health and appearance. When this powerful molecule is combined with Oleuropein, extracted from the olive leaf, and additional advanced multiple hydration factors, sensitive, dry, irritated skin is rapidly soothed and restored to a luminous and youthful vitality.

In fact, these formulations are even gentle enough for post-operative procedures.

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