skin reactions
  • Sensitive skin
  • Skin care

Common types of skin reactions: causes, symptoms and solutions

Is your skin experiencing a reaction? The only way to truly treat a reaction is to know what is causing the sensitivity in the first place. Here, we explore four common types of skin reactivity and reveal how you can soothe and re-balance your sensitive skin.

Von Hannah Mepham

6 Minute read

If you have sensitive skin you’ll know that that there are many factors that can trigger an allergic reaction from the foods we eat, to pollutants and even chemical ingredients found in everyday items such as clothes and skincare.

So what do you do if your skin experiences a reaction? The only way to truly treat a reaction is to know what is causing the sensitivity in the first place.

Here, we explore four common types of skin reactivity and reveal how you can soothe and re-balance your sensitive skin.

Atopic skin reactions


Atopic skin reactions tend to develop in people affected by chronic skin complaints such as eczema or dermatitis.

According to the NHS there are many influences that can trigger an atopic reaction.

The term ‘Atopic’ means sensitivity to allergens and, as such, the NHS advises that atopic reactions may develop in response to allergens, including, but not limited to, pollen, soap, pet hair and certain foods[i].


If you experience an atopic skin reaction it is likely that the skin will become sore, inflamed and itchy[ii].

Your reaction can be localised or may develop on numerous parts of the body[i]. According to the NHS the weather[i] can be a factor in causing a reaction to develop so you may notice that your symptoms are more severe in particularly hot or cold climates.


For skin affected by atopic skin reactions you are best to avoid skin care made with alcohol, fragrances and essential oils.

For a safer solution, try our Scent Free range which is ethyl alcohol free and contains ingredients like Squalane and Shea butter to help retain moisture in the skin.

Contact skin reactions


Essentially a contact skin reaction that develops after your skin comes in contact with something it cannot tolerate.

This could be an allergen it has not encountered before, a fabric or product made with ingredients known to aggravate skin, such as soap or SLS.


A simple way to determine if you have had a contact skin reaction is that the symptoms will appear shortly after the contact has taken place.

Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the reaction but, you can find that you skin becomes itchy, red in appearance or starts to feel tight and uncomfortable.

According to NetDr, the period that the skin will be affected by will vary[ii] and this can depend on the substance that your skin has reacted to as well as the strength of the substance.


Contact reactions commonly develop on the hands. To help soothe sore skin we recommend switching your soap to a fragrance-free hand wash such as our Scent Free Hand Wash.

Non-drying and pH balanced, this ultra-gentle formulation is free from SLS, Triclosan and irritating soap. After washing hands don’t rub them dry, instead, gently pat the skin to limit the risk of further skin damage and apply a soothing scent-free hand cream.

Skin reactivity of vascular origin


Vascular skin reactions occur when blood vessels under the skin react to a change in temperature.

A good example of this is Vasculitis, a condition associated with many illnesses which causes the blood vessels to become inflamed[iv].

However, perhaps the most common types of environmental skin reaction is Rosacea, a skin complaint that commonly develops in middle-age and occurs when blood vessels near to the skin’s surface dilate, making your complexion appear flushed.

Whilst the causes of Rosacea are unknown, changes in the weather, eating spicy food and drinking caffeine or alcohol are all known to triggers flare-ups of the condition[iii].

For more information, read our essential guide to Rosacea.


Skin affected by vascular reactions can become flushed when exposed to a trigger such as a temperature change or spicy food.

In addition to having a crimson complexion, people affected by Rosacea can start to develop dry, irritated skin or spots, something that some sufferers choose to conceal with make-up.


It might be tempting to cover-up flushed skin but sensitive skin needs to breathe!

If you do choose to correct the redness with cosmetics be sure to use lightweight mineral-based products that do not contain silicone and won’t block your pores.

We enhance our Age Defy + Tinted ‘DD’ Moisturisers with natural mineral pigments that adapt to compliment fair skin and, because it doesn’t contain alcohol, this lightweight tinted moisturiser won’t dry out the skin and leave it vulnerable to further irritation.

Environmental skin reactivity


As the name suggests, environmental reactions are triggered by changes to your environment. This can include changes to temperature or exposure to sunlight.


There are many skin conditions that can develop as a result of environmental factors and, as such, the symptoms may vary and may include the skin erupting in hives or experiencing symptoms of prickly heat.


To help your skin from environmental irritants be sure to wear a broad-range UV sun lotion, such as our SPF30 Scent Free Sun Cream, daily.

Suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat it’s rich in natural antioxidants to protect delicate skin but, because it’s non-pore clogging, it also allows the skin to breathe.


Have you got a question about finding skin care that doesn't cause a skin reaction? Our UK customer care team are happy to help you identify which of our gentle, organic skin care products might be suitable for you. Please email or call us on 01403 740350.

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