Suffer from 'sensitive skin'? Consultant dermatologist Dr Niki Ralph has the advice you need
Less than half of Irish adults seek advice from a pharmacist when suffering from sensitive skin, so with free personalised skin health consultations available throughout March, now's the time to get on top of your skincare routine
Skin Health Month takes place throughout the month of March. Created by La Roche-Posay, the nationwide campaign aims to grow awareness and educate about the importance of good skin health and how your local pharmacy can help
Sensitive skin is an issue many Irish people struggle with. According to consultant dermatologist Dr Niki Ralph, who has a specialist interest in inflammatory dermatology including acne, psoriasis and eczema, while sensitive skin is an indicator of a skin condition rather than a condition in itself, her patients often use ‘sensitive skin’ “to describe how skin feels or looks when they are experiencing stinging, burning, or redness.”
Celtic complexions have always been prone to sensitivity – fair, freckled skin is least tolerant of UV rays and can struggle with increasingly popular active skincare ingredients like retinol and acids. One in ten Irish people suffer from rosacea, most commonly characterised by redness and flushing of the skin. It is so common here, says Dr Ralph, that it’s known as ‘the curse of the Celts’, and primarily affects the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. It can often be identified by redness, broken blood vessels and red spots or whiteheads. Though Rosacea is just one of the many conditions associated with sensitive skin, Dr Ralph has observed an overall increase in patients coming to see her for advice on sensitive, compromised or reactive skin.
New research from skincare brand La Roche-Posay, incorporating data from over 1000 adults across Ireland, has revealed an increase in the proportion of people experiencing higher than average skin sensitivity, with an enormous 750,000 adults in Ireland claiming to suffer from skin allergies. Lack of information can leave those suffering with red, angry and itchy or uncomfortable skin, unsure how best to treat it and prevent skin sensitivity in the future.
La Roche-Posay Skin Health Month
La Roche-Posay Skin Health Month takes place annually every March and highlights the importance of skin health, along with the wealth of information and skin advice available from local pharmacies across Ireland. According to La Roche-Posay’s survey, only 49 per cent of Irish adults claim that they seek advice from a pharmacist when they are suffering from a skin allergy or reaction. Through La Roche-Posay Skin Health Month, La Roche-Posay aims to change this by raising awareness of common skin conditions and how your local pharmacy can help. With the right advice and products, sensitive, reactive and allergy-prone skin can be comfortably managed.
So just how does skin become sensitive? It can happen at any stage of life “when the skin’s microbiome, which is made from good and bad bacteria, becomes compromised,” says Dr Ralph. “Disruptions or imbalances in the microbiome can lead to a breakdown of the skin’s bacterial culture, making it more susceptible to allergens.” The result can be dry skin or conditions like eczema (which affects 20 per cent of children in Ireland and approximately 11-12 per cent of adults), rosacea, dermatitis resulting from harsh soaps or allergens, and even red, itchy hives.
Dr Ralph stresses the importance of treating and maintaining sensitive skin to minimise current flare ups and prevent future ones. Apart from seeking advice from your pharmacist, “take short showers or baths with lukewarm rather than hot water – five to ten minutes maximum, and use a gentle, soap-free cleanser.” The La Roche Posay Lipikar Shower Gel is soap-free and can even be used on babies from three months old. Dr Ralph advises that “those with sensitive or allergic-prone skin should always pat the skin dry with a clean towel rather than rubbing vigorously.”
“When it comes to sensitive skincare,” says Dr Ralph, “nine times out of ten, expensive does not mean better. Prioritise fragrance-free products that are bland. Bland doesn’t mean boring. Textures can still be lovely, rich and non-sticky, but no fragrance means reduced chance of irritation, and be sure to moisturise your skin twice daily.” It is tempting to become complacent about our skin once it starts to feel and look better, but according to Dr Ralph, a consistent skincare regimen will keep skin balanced – “Make sure to keep this up as a maintenance treatment to prevent flares of a skin condition, even when your skin is good.” If you have reacted to skincare before, and are nervous about choosing a new skincare product, “test it on a small area of skin first rather than the face or whole body to ensure there is no reaction.”
Importantly, Dr Ralph warns against being drawn in by vague descriptions on packaging. “Be wary of products which say 'natural' on the front of the packaging as this does not always mean they are soap-free, fragrance or preservative-free so they may flare some skin conditions.” La Roche Posay’s survey concluded that three in five (61 per cent) adults perceive ‘naturally derived treatments’ as being most effective at caring for allergy-prone skin. Dr Ralph says that this isn’t always accurate but is “a serious marketing trend in recent years.” “'Natural' doesn’t have an agreed definition in skincare. The actual ingredients are listed on the back of the product, so always look at the back rather than the front of the product to make an informed choice.”
Free personalised skin health consultations
As part of La Roche-Posay Skin Health Month, participating pharmacies are offering free personalised skin health consultations with a specially trained dermoadvisor, who will recommend a straightforward skincare routine to help soothe, treat and manage all types of skin conditions. To help you further on the route to comfortable, happy skin, participating pharmacies are also offering a free La Roche-Posay Sensitive Skin Cleansing Kit with the purchase of two La Roche-Posay products, including one facial moisturiser. Standard skin cleansers can often exacerbate sensitised skin, stripping its natural barrier further and worsening sensitivity. As the first step in your skincare routine, it is essential that cleansing is effective but non-irritating.
The skin cleansing kit contains everything you need to cleanse responsibly: a La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser to remove makeup and impurities while boosting hydration; a Micellar Water Ultra for quick, efficient cleansing; and a Respectissime eye Makeup Remover to gently dissolve even waterproof eye makeup while protecting the delicate eye area. La Roche-Posay sensitive skin cleansers have been created with the skin’s tolerance in mind and maintain the skin’s natural PH, ensuring that the skin’s natural barrier is protected.
If in doubt, seek advice about the right products for your skin from a participating pharmacist this La Roche-Posay Skin Health Month.
For more information visit www.laroche-posay.ie/skin-health-month
Celebrate with a free gift when you purchase two La Roche-Posay products, one to be a facial moisturizer. Gift consists of a free Respectissime Eye Makeup Remover 50ML, Micellar Water 100ML and Toleraine Dermo Cleanser 50ML. Offer available at participating ROI pharmacies stocking La Roche-Posay only. Valid from 24/02/20 – 30/04/20.
Subject to availability whilst stock lasts. One gift per qualifying purchase.