I am hoping that this post will give you a clear, general understanding of the different types of reactions that can be experienced when using cosmetics products. An ability to assess if a particular ingredient or product is appropriate for a specific individual. It is not by all means intended to replace the knowledge of a physician.
In Skincare, an adverse reaction can be defined as ( any unwanted effect associated with treatment, they are not always bad, but just unwanted. Two of the more frequent types of reactions observed in skincare are Irritation and allergy. Just like there are different ways to evaluate and categorize skin types, there are also a variety of conditions that should be identified before selecting a product that can truly help your skin, rather than aggravate it.
How to avoid an adverse reaction and being able to understand the types of reactions, is very important as it can help you reassure that everything will be fine, direct you to professional for treatment and also what products or ingredients to keep away from. Below are lists of irritations.
Basic or simple irritation:
Irritation can range from a simple, small pale-red patch of skin to a large area that is intense crimson red, this is common in Caucasian, European, and Hispanic light to medium pigmentation. Asian skin reacts more intensely to irritation, demonstrating deeper red colorations.
Women of color medium to dark pigmentation may not exhibit redness at all. Instead, they will often demonstrate a decrease in color at the site of irritation, causing an imbalance in overall skin coloration.
Skin irritation only appears in the area where a product has been applied and usually develops within 6-24 hours after product use. In the event a person develops this type of reaction, they should wash the product off the skin as soon as possible and discontinue product use until the reaction completely disappear, usually this happens within 72 to 96 hours, also recommended contacting their doctor or dermatologist
Cumulative irritation occurs after continued product use. There will be no signs of irritation for three or more days and suddenly a reaction will occur. The skin will react in the same manner as basic or simple irritation, and the product should be washed off and discontinued until the reaction has subsided. This is common when one or more products are being used at the same time, like in a skincare regime. Often the skin can tolerate one or more products for a few days, but over time it becomes less tolerant and irritation reaction occurs.
It is a form of irritation that is commonly confused with Acne. These reactions develop small bumps, usually entails a cluster about 10-21 small blemish that can appear red or white and can be filled with fluid like lesions. They are inflammatory and are not white or blackheads ( which are non-inflammatory lesions or comedones). These reactions usually arise when the client uses multiple products. In the case of chemical folliculitis, stop the use of all products until the reaction is gone and then start using one product at a time.
For example, your skincare regime can be resumed using the cleanser morning and night for the first week. If no reactions occur, the next product can be added the following week, like a moisturizer after cleansing. If still no problems are observed when using two products, a third product can be reintroduced.
If a person is very sensitive, the cleaner can be used once a day for the first week and twice a day the second and so on.
Subjective Irritation Reactions:
Burning, stinging, and itching are subjective irritation reactions that are considered sub-clinical, not visible. It is not yet clear why people experience this type of reaction. When the climate goes from warm to cold and there is less humidity or moisture is in the air like in winter, for example, there is an increase in the amount of skin burning, stinging, and itching complaint. For these types of reactions, minimizing the number of products used, and/or using a simple cleanser with a heavy moisturizer. Such as a barrier cream can be helpful until the skin acclimates to the changes in the environment.
Allergic reactions are often very complex and can be difficult to determine. Therefore, it is always best to leave it to experts like allergists or dermatologists. There are several types of allergic reactions, with many different mechanisms of action.
Three of the most common forms are:
- Immediate hypersensitivity: reaction typically occurs within 30 minutes of being exposed to a product or ingredient to which one is allergic to. The reaction can often be very severe, producing significant swelling and redness, and potentially causing a person to go into anaphylactic shock and stop breathing. In the event of a severe reaction, medical treatment should be obtained immediately in a nearby emergency room. In reactions not involving difficulty in breathing, the person should see their physician as soon as possible to minimize the length and severity of the reaction
- Delayed hypersensitivity/allergic reactions: is a reaction that normally occurs within 24 to 96 hours after a person comes in contact with a product or ingredient which they are allergic. The reactions observed can be range from mild to severe redness and swelling, and the skin can be itchy and somewhat uncomfortable. Medical treatment should be obtained as soon as possible to avoid the reaction from getting worse and lasting longer than 7 to 10 days
- Utricaria: relates to breaking out in hives which are raised red, itchy welts on the surface of the skin. This type of reaction is commonly reported as a result of excessive stress, certain foods, medicines, but topical skincare products can also be the cause. Most of the time, these reactions relate to histamine circulating in the blood. They occur within 30 to 60 minutes of coming in contact with a product and normally go away by themselves within several hours.
NB! Ingredients that can most often cause such sensitivity are fragrances, preservatives, and some chemical sunscreens.
The difference between irritation and allergy:
- Irritation is normally less severe and short in duration, usually lasts only a few days compared to an allergic reaction, which requires immediate medical care and lasts up to10 days.
- Irritation is usually confined to the area to which the product was applied. Allergic reactions can spread to areas near the application site, and cases where histamine is involved, reactions can occur anywhere on the body.
- The major difference between irritation and allergy is that once an irritation reaction clears, the product can be reintroduced into the skin treatment regime. If there is an allergy to a product or an ingredient, a person will be allergic to it forever and should never use it again.
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Love & Light