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Skin Allergies: know them better to feel better!

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Have you experienced uncomfortable, hot, itchy rashes that come and go? You’re not alone. This heightened and unpleasant skin sensitivity might be an allergy. Ten percent of women suffer from a contact allergy to nickel, one in five children have eczema, and it is estimated that by 2050, half the population will be affected by allergies, with half of these showing up on the skin. So what’s the difference between sensitive skin and allergic skin? SVR’s #lookgoodfeelgood team and dermatologist Dr Laurence Risse help you understand the symptoms and give you key advice on how to keep your skin calm.

Dr. Laurence Risse, explains

-What causes skin allergies?
We’re not born allergic, we become allergic! An allergy is a disruption of the immune system. The latter becomes intolerant to an allergen, a substance that doesn’t normally cause reactions after it has come into contact with the allergen on many occasions. As with other types of allergies, it is difficult to determine the origin. It can be caused by contact, after using a cream or a new shampoo, for example, or after wearing a piece of jewelry. But it can also be triggered by medication or food.

-Is sensitive skin allergic?
Not necessarily. However, sensitive skin is already vulnerable, and this can be a contributing factor. The skin barrier is impaired, and its role as a protective shield becomes defective. Sensitive skin can therefore be more susceptible to allergens.

-Is the environment an aggravating factor?
Definitely. We are in contact with more and more substances, whether they are natural or chemical. For example, women often use many different skincare products daily: serum, moisturizer, foundation, and sunscreen, just for starters. Some of these products have very long lists of ingredients! Then there’s hair dye and nickel jewelry, and on top of all that we are exposed to outdoor and even indoor pollution (from household products). This gives you an insight into the number of substances that we come into contact with every day!  

-What about our lifestyle?
In Western countries, people tend to strip their skin by washing too frequently, sometimes with very aggressive products. This can alter the microbial flora on the skin’s surface, which plays an important protective role. This is undoubtedly contributing to the increase in skin allergies.

- Who is most affected?
I’d say women because they are the ones who use the most products daily. But we’re also seeing more eczema in children. This type of skin allergy originates with the same gene as asthma and hay fever, so it often gets passed down through families. Fortunately, unlike skin allergies that develop later, it usually disappears as children get older. We’re also seeing more and more cases of allergies among people who work with their hands, such as chefs and hairdressers.

-What treatments are available?
Treatment usually begins with the prescription of topical steroids, while an investigation into the potential allergen is carried out. Once the cause is identified, the only truly effective “treatment” is total avoidance, which means no more contact with the particular cream, food, molecule, or substance that triggered the allergy.

Can an allergy go away?
Unlike “traditional” allergies, desensitization doesn’t work with skin allergies, and they remain throughout life. Fortunately, by avoiding the allergen and adopting a few good habits, people can control and calm flare-ups. 

1/ Hypersensitive and allergic skin – what’s the difference?

“My skin won’t tolerate anything now!” To take the right action to soothe skin quickly, we must understand the difference between sensitive skin and allergic skin, which isn’t always easy. Here is some guidance to help you self-diagnose your symptoms.

I have sensitive skin if: My skin overreacts to everything. It becomes red, uncomfortable, and tight when exposed to cold, heat, a rough towel, or a strong soap, but also due to stress or staying out late partying.

I have allergic skin if:

 • I have hives: I develop a rash. Raised red and/or pink areas suddenly appear anywhere on my body. They can be itchy and sometimes migrate to another part of the body.

 •  I have eczema: Small red blisters appear. They are itchy, and ooze and sweat when I scratch them. Unlike rashes, these patches stay in the same place and don’t disappear within a few hours.

What you need: products that instantly soothe, feel good, and are very well tolerated.

2/ The eyes are another sensitive area

The skin on the eyelids is four times thinner than that on the rest of the face. It is also more permeable and has to work hard – we blink more than 10,000 times a day! In the past few years, we have seen a growing incidence of skin allergies around the eyes. It is estimated that a quarter of the population suffers from eye allergies.

Symptoms: When it comes to the eyelids, allergies mainly take the form of eczema. The eyelids swell and itch. These are debilitating symptoms to experience in oneself but also socially as they are often very visible.

What you need: Products that quickly soothe redness and discomfort, which are very well tolerated, hypoallergenic, have a physiological pH and are tested under dermatological and ophthalmic control.

3/ Cosmetic ingredients that will come to your rescue

Panthenol: This pharmaceutical ingredient rapidly calms and is very safe. It soothes discomfort with long-lasting results.  

Aloe vera: nature’s ultimate cooler! It delivers intense hydration to skin for up to eight hours, and also has soothing properties.

Shea butter & squalane: the ultimate skin-nourishing combo. This complex with emollient and ultra-hydrating properties is perfectly suited to dry and very dry skin, nourishing it intensely.  

Glycyrrhizic acid: great for relieving itchy skin! Extracted from licorice root, this sedative-like acid inhibits the inflammatory response and reduces the threshold of irritation in the delicate eye area.

4/ Minimalist formulas are your new friends

Minimalism is a new trend in the cosmetics world that focuses on getting back to basics. It’s all about formulating products that are safer for the skin with a limited number of ingredients, say 10 or even fewer. This effort to simplify formulas involves using as many naturally occurring ingredients as possible and removing anything that doesn’t benefit the formula or skin, as well as any potentially controversial ingredients such as endocrine disruptors.

This is important for allergic skin, because the higher the number of ingredients, the more likely the product is to cause an allergy! Opting for products with few ingredients means we not only reduce our likelihood of reacting to them but also, the allergen will be easier to identify if we do react. These formulas are generally specially designed for hypersensitive and/or allergic skin with very well-tolerated actives, carefully chosen for their ability to soothe and reduce the frequency of flare-ups.

5/ Three tips for managing your allergic skin  

Your shower water should be no hotter than 98 F. Tepid water is better tolerated by the skin, especially if it is sensitive. Don’t stay too long in the shower, either! Water attracts water, and after five minutes, your skin starts drying out, which will irritate it even more.  

Try to avoid stress. In the embryo, the skin and brain are made of the same structure; they only separate later. The relationship between the two is therefore very close. That’s why a period of stress or severe fatigue can trigger an eczema flare-up.

Avoid essential oils. They are popular because they are completely natural but unfortunately, they can be a disaster for people prone to allergies. Their molecules affect the body both through the respiratory tract but also through the skin cells. In addition, some are common allergens. If in doubt, don't use them!

XoXo The team #lookgoodfeelgood SVR.
Keep calm & Feel Beautiful!


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