Skin Irritation: Causes and Prevention

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

What made your skin so red? How can you treat it? And, most importantly, how to prevent it from happening again?

Let’s find out:

What Causes Skin Irritations?

Lots of things can irritate your skin. But, here are the main culprits:

  • Freezing cold or torrid hot weather
  • Overexfoliation
  • Sharing unsanitized makeup with others
  • Skincare products with irritating ingredients
  • Unprotected sun exposure

What Happens When Skin Is Irritated?

Irritations suck, but do they do any serious damage to your skin? Here’s what happens when your skin is irritated:

How Can I Tell When MY Skin Is Irritated?

Wait. The answer to this question isn’t as easy as it may seem at first. True, if skin is red, itchy, flaking, and stinging, you know that something’s wrong, and you’re very likely dealing with an irritation.

But, did you know that irritation and inflammation can also occur in the deeper layers of the skin? And, this inflammation NEVER shows up on the surface. So, yes, your skin can be irritated this very moment, and you don’t even know it.

This is usually caused by stress, fear, anxiety, or a diet high in sugar and processed foods. But using irritating skincare products doesn’t help…

In this post, I’m talking about the irritation you can see, the one caused by skincare products, harsh weather, etc – cos that’s my jam.

P.S. If you’re under a lot of stress or are dealing with severe anxiety, please seek help. Consult a doctor, try meditation or mindfulness, take some me-time to recharge and relax… Do whatever you need to find balance again.

P.P.S. If you’re looking for a diet that lowers inflammation without depriving you of your fave, not-so-healthy foods (pizza, anyone?), check out the Low Glycemic Diet. It’s the one I follow, too.

How Do You Prevent Skin Irritations?

The key to preventing skin irritations is to treat your skin gently:

  • Avoid the trigger, including beauty products with irritating ingredients (more on this below)
  • Don’t use scrubs
  • Wash your face/bath/shower with lukewarm water (hot water feels good, but can irritate it)
  • Wear sunscreen every day – UV rays are the MAIN cause of inflammation (and that causes the irritation you CAN’T see)

So, What Skincare Ingredients Should You Avoid?

Here’s a short list (which is by no means comprehensive) of the most common irritants found in skincare products:

PRO TIP: These ingredients are problematic only when used in large amounts. If you find the ingredient listed towards the end of the label, there’s nothing to worry about. Even if it’s at the top, if you limit its use to only once in a while, no harm done. But high amounts used regularly? Please, don’t do that!

  • Alcohol Denat
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coriander
  • Ethanol
  • Eugenol
  • Fragrance
  • Lavender
  • Linalool
  • Menthol
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Tea lauryl sulfate
  • Witch hazel

Do you know any other tip to avoid skin irritation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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