Guess Who Forgot To Patch Test

I haven't always had sensitive skin. It's something that developed over time, starting when I went into peri-menopause, around my mid-forties. My skin, especially the areas on my face, neck and chest, became less sun tolerant and sensitive to the fragrancing in products.

However, the sensitivity wasn't constant. It comes and goes and I have learned over time what to avoid and what works when I'm having a bout of skin irritation.

I was in one of the dormant periods when I decided I fancied a bit of colour ahead of what bit of natural tan I get once Summer sets in. I love how healthy my skin looks with a light tan and why wait when instant satisfaction can easily be bought.  I purchased a tube of gradual tanning lotion, the brand doesn't matter, and totally forgot Rule Number One of Sensitive Skins; patch test first!

Looking back, it should never have got to the point where I applied the stuff because the box and tube the product came in wasn't sealed. I don't know if this normal for the brand I purchased, but in my opinion, product for topical application should always be sealed. And why this obvious red flag didn't register in my middle-aged brain I don't know. Anyway, here is the result:

Meet contact dermatitis. My neck, chest and oddly, the crooks of my elbows and behind my knees have been most affected. I'm dealing with it using a variety of things that I have learned by trial and error over the years works and keeps me sane while my skin recovers.

1. Before anything else, get the offending substance off!

I was out of my usual shower cleanser, so I chose to go with an organic soap by The Little Soap Company. I wanted something free of anything that could make matters worse.

Their soaps are 100% natural, vegan and free-from. Fragrancing is provided by essential oils, however, if you don't tolerate essential oils, they do have one made with olive oil. A nice bonus with these soaps; they work wonderfully as a shaving medium.

Don't forget that items like bedding, towels and clothing that may also have come into contact with the substance may need laundering as well.

2. Allergy tablets

For me, Loratidine tablets work best, taken daily while the itch is active.

3. Hydrocortison cream

Beats calamine lotion any day. This cream, available at your pharmacy in the U.K. (you may need to get it prescribed if you are in Canada), immediately calms itching, helps healing and the little tube is very portable.

4. Soothe and moisturise!

I discovered French pharmacy brand Avene not long after I reached peri-menopause and needed something to help with facial redness and sensitivity that didn't exist previously. I always have a number of their products on hand and can't recommend them enough. Avene is spring water based and has no fragrancing or chemical additives.  The anti redness cream is nothing short of a wonder.

Keep in mind that sensitivity is different from one person to another. In some cases, your first stop may be your doctor or pharmacist for professional advice.