If you read my blogs regularly you will likely know that I have sensitive skin. In recent years, this hasn’t been such a big problem for me but I am regularly asked how to manage sensitive skin. In this video I review why sensitive skin occurs, how you can help minimise skin reactions using topical ingredients and what dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your skin. I have also previously written a Sensitive Skin Information Page about sensitive skin which you can review here.
Sensitive Skin Solutions
Have you ever looked in the mirror the morning of a big event only to discover a huge pimple or noticed that your skin is unusually red and blotchy? Don’t stress, it will only make it worse! It could actually be the case that stress was the trigger for your breakout in the first place. Stress affects our lives in all ways, some motivational and positive, others subtle and more insidious. While not historically recognised as a contributing factor in skin conditions, there is now growing body of evidence to show that stress has potentially harmful effects on the skin. From acne to eczema research shows us that during times of acute stress, rashes and breakouts become worse, sometimes significantly so. It also points to the potential role of chronic low-grade stress as a causative factor in persistent skin conditions.
Stress can affect our appearance in a number of ways including increased perspiration, brittle nails, dry, thinning hair and sensitive more reactive skin. Where there is an existing skin condition, worsening can be seen in the following ways:
These effects are primarily caused by the impact of stress on skin permeability. In most chronic skin conditions there is an abnormality in the skin’s permeability barrier. The body responds by trying to repair the barrier and in the process initiates an inflammatory process in the deeper layers of the skin with the result of worsening skin symptoms. Even in people without existing skin conditions, stress has the ability to reduce skin permeability and increase dehydration and sensitivity. This may go some way to explaining why some people react to certain topical agent only some of the time; generally skin permeability is normal however during times of stress it is affected leaving skin more vulnerable to irritation.
When exposed to stress, hormonal and chemical levels increase. Hormones in the brain trigger the release of adrenalin and norepinephrine, creating the classic flight or fight response – our body’s are readying for an emergency, which most of the time doesn’t occur. Glucocorticoids are also released from the adrenal glands, and when stress is ongoing it leads to the decrease in skin barrier function. Interestingly, while a decreased barrier function often causes water loss, increased oil production can also occur due to the role of stress in the disruption of normal hormonal balance and an increase in substance P. So yes it is possible to have moisture dehydrated skin and be oily (usually through the T-zone) at the same time.
In addition to stress directly affecting skin permeability, chronic stress can also affect the functioning of the immune system. Stress down regulates the immune system making us more susceptible to infection. It also plays havoc with skin conditions that have immune involvement such as psoriasis, eczema, cold sores and shingles, most commonly causing worsening skin condition. Stressed individuals are also more likely to eat and sleep less healthily or be more likely to drink more alcohol further suppressing the immune system.
So how does stress reduction help with the treatment of skin conditions? Firstly, it helps by decreasing the release of
pro-inflammatory hormones, which results in less inflammation, redness and rash like symptoms. It also reduces blood vessel hyper-activity resulting in less frequent skin flushing, which is particularly important in rosacea. Time will see an improvement in skin permeability, which means greater hydration and less sensitivity. Oiliness will improve as hormones settle back to normal. This may take up to 3 months. Reducing stress will result overall in better condition both for those with existing skin disorders as well as those with normal skin.
Taking the time to incorporate some simple stress reducing techniques into your daily routine will help improve the condition of your skin:
happiness and wellbeing. In addition it increases circulation and therefore nutrition to your extremities, including your skin.
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On the last day of my holiday recently I suffered a head injury. I banged my head against a tile bench top while cleaning. In my dazed and bleeding state I then worked out that cleaning and me were not a good match…but then that’s nothing new! After a few days the egg on my forehead went down and I was left with a nasty gash. I started applying manuka honey & calendula balm (Calm Magic Balm) and 10 days later my forehead is almost clear with no likelihood of a scar. I am very pleased and now carry my Magic Balm with me everywhere. Below I have written about the benefits of honey and calendula as two wonderful healing agents.
Effective healing of a wound is the primary concern following injury or surgery. Wound healing is a complex process and supporting the natural regeneration process of skin cells is important to minimise or eliminate scarring and to help heal and repair damage. Wound management begins with ensuring lack of post-trauma infection and the use of the most effective products formulated to help heal and repair damaged skin. Topical support for wound healing is one way to ensure an effective healing process and minimise the risk of scarring. Even mild cuts and abrasions will benefit from the use of medical grade honey and calendula.
For centuries, calendula has been used to treat many types of skin conditions. A systematic review of the use of calendula in wound treatment concluded that it is still one of the most favourable wound healing agents to date. The topical application of calendula is excellent for all stages of wound healing. Initially it prevents tissue degeneration and slows bleeding allowing the body to start the wound healing process. In addition, calendula has an antimicrobial effect and helps reduce excessive inflammation which if prolonged can delay wound closure and increase pain. Once wound healing is underway, calendula stimulates the regeneration of tissues, increases wound strength and improves wound contraction. Generally calendula is applied to the open wound as a cream.
Of significant note in recent wound management techniques is the use of medical grade antibacterial honey, particularly for chronic and poorly healing wounds such as ulcers. Not all types of honey are effective for wound healing and the differences related to the floral source. Manuka honey from New Zealand along with honey from the Leptospermum tree found in Australia, are considered the most effective medical honeys. Similarly to calendula antibacterial honey is beneficial for wound healing because it has such a broad range of therapeutic effects. It offers wound protection by proving a physical barrier to antibiotic resistant strains of microorganisms thereby preventing cross infection. It promotes clean wounds by removing necrotic (dead) tissue and debris. Finally it promotes wound healing by maintaining a moist wound environment and encouraging tissue granulation. Medical honeys are available in typical honey form which is ideal for oral use or incorporated into creams or lotions and even bandages for easier application to external wounds.
As part of my healing process I used Calm Magic Balm which contains 16% medical grade Manuka Honey. I also use it at night as a lip balm. It keeps my lips moist and tastes great!
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