Sensitive skin is usually the result of contact dermatitis - where a substance causes an allergic reaction or irritates the skin.
Sensitive skin is often red, itchy and dry, and may cause pain and discomfort.
Irritants - such as detergents or perfumes - are responsible for around 80% of contact dermatitis cases.
Sensitive skin isn't quite the same as eczema, but it does share a lot of common symptoms. Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis can make skin sore, red, swollen, itchy, dry, blistered or cracked.
Hands are most commonly affected by contact dermatitis, along with the face.
Allergic dermatitis will usually make the skin itchy and is usually localised to the area that came into contact with the allergen. For instance, an allergy to a hand cream would cause symptoms to appear on the hands. In some cases, the allergic reaction can spread elsewhere - even if the affected skin hasn't come into contact with the allergen.
Irritant dermatitis stings, burns and is sore. However, it can take up to 48 hours for symptoms to appear. Stronger irritants will cause a more immediate reaction. Irritant dermatitis is always specific to the affected area.
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