The skin of the face or body can become irritated for many different causes, what are they? How can skin irritations be treated? What can be done to prevent them? Let’s find out together!
Skin irritations can be localized on the face, in small areas of the body or spread over very large areas. The reasons are numerous and effective remedies depend above all on the nature and extent of the problem. In case of frequent, particularly annoying and / or extensive irritation, it is recommended to contact your family doctor or dermatologist. Below we try to understand what are the symptoms to recognize irritated skin, all the most frequent causes and the best natural remedies that can relieve and soothe the skin.
Irritated skin: the symptoms to recognize it
The skin has a big advantage: it is an organ that we can check visually; consequently, if it is irritated, we notice it easily. The main symptoms of skin irritation are:
- Redness: is the most common of the signs of irritated skin;
- Not very compact appearance: the skin is very dry and tends to peel;
- Burning, tingling or itching: these discomfort are the indication that the nerve endings of the skin have been affected. In more serious cases, pain may also be felt;
- Changes: Swelling, dark spots, blisters, bleeding, discoloration, and other changes in the appearance of the skin can indicate serious irritation. In such cases, it is important to contact the dermatologist.
Irritated skin: all possible causes
Listing all, absolutely all, the possible causes of skin irritation is almost impossible; however, we will try to indicate all the most frequent ones.
- Exposure to the sun and / or tanning beds: this is a very common cause of skin irritation, which often occurs in both children and adults. Sometimes an erythema may also appear;
- Wind and too cold temperatures: not only the sun, all environmental stimuli can irritate the skin, especially the persistent wind and frost. The most affected parts, in this case, are the hands and face;
- Depilation and epilation: all methods of hair removal expose to skin irritation, from waxing, to razor, to cream… no one is exempt from this risk;
- Folliculitis: Folliculitis is inflammation of the skin caused mainly by the presence of bacteria, dermatitis, acne, or ingrown hair. In these cases the skin can be red and irritated;
- Shaving the beard: like hair removal, the elimination of the beard causes many problems of irritated skin on the face in men of all ages;
- Sweat: excessive sweating, particularly sensitive skin, very humid heat… they expose you to the risk of irritated skin with red spots and, often, even itching. It is a phenomenon that occurs more commonly in children and women;
- Rubbing: any type of rubbing can irritate the skin, especially the most sensitive, delicate and thin ones;
- Dry or dehydrated skin: skin that is not sufficiently hydrated and that tends to peel is more exposed to the risk of irritation;
- Reactive or hypersensitive skin: this defines the type of skin that “reacts” easily to stimuli and is therefore more prone to irritation;
- Diaper: the area in the diaper area is particularly fragile and therefore you have to be very careful because it is commonly irritated;
- Insect bites: no one is immune to skin irritation from insect bites, which cause more or less extensive redness and swelling, depending on the type of insect and personal predisposition;
- Use of unsuitable cosmetics or incorrect use of skin products: the use of a “wrong” face mask or cream can give rise to skin irritation and redness; happens, for example, because we have not used the product in the right way (for example, too long application times of a mask, too frequent use of a scrub … etc.) or simply because that product contains one or more ingredients to which the our skin is sensitive or even allergic. It occurs frequently on the face.
The above are all non-pathological causes of irritated skin. There are also pathological causes such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, allergies, but also systemic diseases.
Irritated skin: the 10 most effective natural remedies
The most effective natural remedies for irritated skin depend on the type of irritation; we indicate 10, among the most used. However, always keep in mind that do-it-yourself remedies can be good for minor problems, for example a moderate sunburn, a small redness in the diaper area, which resolves in a short time, a slight irritation after shaving… or similar. In all other cases, especially when there is a pathological cause (ascertained or suspected), it is necessary to contact the dermatologist.
1. Aloe vera gel
The main indication of the aloe vera gel is precisely to soothe skin irritations of various kinds. It is especially recommended when the problem is caused by external agents, for example sun and wind, and reduces redness, itching and burning, giving a feeling of freshness. It is applied, as needed, on the affected areas, massaging the gel until completely absorbed.
2. Hypericum oil
Hypericum oil is an oleolite obtained by macerating the flowers of Hypericum perforatum in vegetable oil. It is useful in case of skin irritation due to sunburn or folliculitis (in this case it is useful to combine it with tea tree oil, with its antibacterial action). It soothes small redness and helps rehydrate the skin. It is used by applying a small amount on the affected area, as needed. Do not expose yourself to the sun after using it because it is photo sensitizing.
3. Calendula ointment
It is a calendula -based ointment with moisturizing, emollient and soothing properties. It is useful for treating small irritations of various kinds, for example intimate redness of children, sunburn, insect bites… even in the case of sensitive and reactive skin. It is applied to the interested parties, a couple of times a day, until the problem is resolved.
4. Rosehip oil
Rosehip oil is a pure vegetable oil obtained from cold pressed rosehip seeds. It has soothing, moisturizing, emollient and lightening properties; promotes the natural skin repair process and helps reduce the symptom of itching, if present. It is suitable for daily use and is widely used in the cosmetic field, especially against wrinkles and small scars. In case of slight skin irritation or sunburn, apply it pure on the area to be treated and massage gently. Those who prefer ointments with oils, can opt for the rosehip ointment, with the same indications for use.
5. Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil is a natural source of vitamin E, therefore it is a highly moisturizing and nourishing product, which performs numerous beneficial functions for the benefit of skin and hair. Used as an after-sun it soothes skin irritation due to exposure, thanks to its moisturizing and nourishing qualities. It is a very delicate product, also suitable for treating small irritations of various kinds on the skin of small children. It is suitable for daily use, to keep the skin always hydrated and healthy.
6. Shea butter
Shea butter has moisturizing, nourishing and soothing qualities. It is very delicate and is therefore also suitable for reactive and fragile skin. It soothes small irritations of various kinds, for example those after shaving or due to insect bites. It is applied directly on the affected part, until completely absorbed, even several times a day. It is also very useful for daily use, for preventive purposes, as it forms a real barrier against wind, cold and other atmospheric agents that can attack the skin.
7. Vitamin E
In addition to being moisturizing, emollient and nourishing, vitamin E on the skin has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action; it is therefore suitable for combating skin irritations, especially those caused by the action of the sun and other atmospheric agents. Used daily, it helps to strengthen the skin barrier against UV rays, exposing it less to the appearance of irritation, skin spots and even wrinkles.
8. Specific essential oils
Some essential oils are particularly good for managing minor skin problems. Below we report 4 of the most suitable.
- Chamomile essential oil: it has an anti-inflammatory and calming action and relieves skin irritations of various kinds, especially sunburn;
- Peppermint essential oil: it has an antibacterial and soothing action, it is very useful especially in case of irritations with itching, for example following insect bites;
- Lavender essential oil: it has an excellent soothing action and is useful in case of skin irritations of various kinds;
- Tea tree oil: this oil has excellent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, being useful against skin irritations, especially caused by insect bites, but also in the presence of acne or red spots on the skin. Also ideal for soothing itching.
Essential oils are generally used diluted in carrier oil (for example wheat germ or almond oil) and applied to the area affected by irritation (for 10 ml of oil you can add 2 or 3 drops of essential oil). It is always preferable not to apply pure essential oils directly on the skin, because they are very concentrated products and could give rise to sensitization phenomena. For the same reason, it is advisable not to abuse it.
9. Rice oil
Thanks to the excellent presence of phytosterols, it has soothing and calming properties. It is indicated to treat skin problems irritated following atmospheric stimuli, for example wind and very cold temperatures, or after hair removal and epilation. Rice oil can be used pure, as a carrier oil for essential oils, or mixed with other vegetable oils. It is also suitable for those who do not particularly like oily products, because, despite being an oil, it softens the skin without greasing. It is also suitable for the delicate skin of small children.
10. Olive oil
Our grandmothers used it in many different ways because they always had it available and knew all its properties and uses. It is the richest oil in oleic acid and boasts excellent emollient, nourishing and soothing qualities. It is indicated to treat skin irritations of various kinds. It is the product that we find most easily at home, it is therefore accessible to everyone, at any time, and this is, perhaps, its main strength.
A grandmother’s remedy: mallow flower infusion
It is one of the best known grandmother’s remedies for skin irritations , especially effective against itching and burning. After preparing a concentrated infusion of mallow flowers, let it cool and apply it on the affected areas with the help of a gauze. It is a very delicate remedy and can also be used several times a day.
How to prevent skin irritation
Skin irritations are prevented with some simple but important measures, let’s see what they are.
Avoid too frequent exposure to UVA and UVB rays and use a face cream with sun protection every day, especially in summer and spring, even when you don’t go to the beach or the pool. Always keep the skin hydrated, both on the face and on the body, using products that are as delicate as possible and, of course, suitable for your skin type. In winter it can be useful to apply a moisturizer (or shea butter) on your hands daily to avoid chapping or irritation.
Always evaluate the composition of what you buy by reading the INCI, ie the list of ingredients. When using a new product, it is always advisable to try it first on a very small piece of skin. All the oils indicated in this article are also excellent in terms of prevention. Apply a vegetable oil to the skin after hair removal or epilation. Always use a soothing product after shaving.
Avoid as much as possible perfumes and all potentially irritating substances (alcohol, dyes, metals…). Cleanse the skin with delicate products free of aggressive ingredients. In case of excessive sweating, pat dry with a mild talc, such as cornstarch, especially in the most exposed areas, such as the armpits or the area under the breasts.
Corn starch is also very useful in preventing irritation in the diaper area. Finally, it is advisable to avoid stressing the skin with excessive mechanical stress, for example too frequent hair removal.