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Navigating Skin Reactions: Understanding Itchy Skin and Skincare Responses

January 29, 2024
6 min read
Understanding Itchy Skin

Itchy skin - or pruritus to give its medical name - is a common complaint and can affect anyone. It can range from an occasional mild annoyance to a persistent itch that feels like it’s taking over your body. Sometimes an itch can be easy to overcome, whereas other times, it can be harder to get under control.  

Itchy skin can be a result of the skincare products you’re using. At MiQuest, we prescribe personalised formulations for individual use that are tailored for specific conditions and skin needs.

The MiQuest routine also involves a combination of moisturisers, cleansers and SPF formulations to support and promote skin health. What’s more, we use active ingredients such as clindamycin - which helps protect against infection, and niacinamide - which enhances the skin’s protective barrier activity and resilience.

Because of our attention to detail and highly personalised approach, our skincare products are much better tolerated than skincare products that are bought ‘off the shelf’.

In this article, we delve into the ins and outs of itchy skin when introducing skincare products, understanding what’s normal, and how you can go about managing the condition.

Itchy Skin Concerns

There are many different reasons as to why your skin may become itchy. Our bodies have special nerve fibres that are used to transmit sensations of itching1. If the itching sensation isn’t addressed and eased, over time, it could develop into chronic itching.

Itchy Skin product-MiQuest

This is when the pathways for itch signals become overly sensitive. This can then lead to something that should feel normal - like a simple touch to the skin - feeling itchy instead2.  

Most commonly, skin can become itchy and irritated simply by becoming too dry, or from common skin conditions such as eczema. This is often exacerbated by damage to the skin’s own protective barrier. When the skin barrier is compromised, irritants and germs can enter the skin and cause further irritation and feelings of itchiness3.

If you’re worried that your skincare products are the reason behind your itchy skin, it’s important to find ways to manage the itch and understand whether what you’re experiencing is just your skin’s process of adjustment, purging, or whether it’s a potentially concerning reaction.

Scale of Skin Reactions

There is a whole spectrum of skin reactions when it comes to itchiness. At the mild end, you may experience slight tingling or dryness as your skin adjusts to a new skincare product. At the other end of the spectrum, you may encounter allergic or irritant reactions such as redness, flushing skin, or a swollen face.  

If your new skincare includes retinoids such as tretinoin it’s quite possible that you will experience some form of reaction as your skin adjusts to these pretty powerful ingredients. Common symptoms when starting out with retinoids include -  

  • dryness  
  • peeling  
  • skin purging
  • redness  

When you choose MiQuest, you’ll be prescribed personalised active ingredients that are right for your skin, at levels that should be well tolerated. With personalised prescriptions, the levels of active ingredients in your product can start off small, and as your skin becomes used to them, they can be upped. This gradual approach is best when trying to keep any extreme skin reactions at bay.

Normal Adjustment Period

So, what’s normal when it comes to your skin getting used to new products? Well, as you’d expect, how your skin reacts and responds to ingredients is all entirely unique to you.

If you have sensitive skin it’s highly likely your skin will take longer to calm down than skin that’s not on the sensitive side.  

Your adjustment period will also largely depend on the skincare ingredients included in your personalised formulation.  

For ingredients like retinoids, it’s important that they’re paired with nourishing ingredients such as niacinamide as these can help keep irritation at bay.  

If you’re starting to use a retinol or retinoid, here’s what you can expect -  

  1. Flaky, dry, and peeling skin is considered a normal response and not a sign that you should stop using it
  1. It can typically take around three weeks for skin to start tolerating retinol products as your skin cells get used to the retinoic acid
  1. Expect to start seeing results in around three to four months  

Understanding Purging  

Purging is a skin reaction that happens temporarily as skin gets used to certain skincare ingredients. It’s an entirely normal process that most skin goes through but it can sometimes be frustrating.

Knowing what’s a normal part of the purging process will hopefully make it much easier for you to understand and accept as your skin goes through this period of adjustment.  

Purging can include -  

  • An increase in breakouts of whiteheads and blackheads
  • An increase in dry skin, flaky skin, and peeling skin

The most common skincare ingredients to cause skin purging are retinols, AHAs and BHAs.

Identifying Adverse Reactions

When introducing new skincare ingredients into your regime you can expect to experience certain reactions. But if you’re worried that your skin might be having an adverse reaction, consider the following.

If you notice any of these more extreme responses, you will need to stop use, speak to your dermatologist or contact your GP. Adverse reactions can include:  

  • Facial swelling
  • A rash
  • Eyes, nose, and or mouth becoming irritated
  • Problems breathing
  • Anaphylaxis - can include itchy skin, feeling faint, feeling anxious, increased heartbeat, finding it difficult to breathe. This is an extreme reaction but can be life threatening and requires immediate medical intervention  

Managing Skin Reactions  

In order to successfully get through the skin purging process, it’s important to -  

  1. Be patient - let your skin do its thing
  1. Don’t pick - this could cause further irritation and/or inflammation
  1. Keep your skin hydrated
  1. Use non-comedogenic products that won’t block pores
  1. Use a high SPF sunscreen every day

You’ll also want to be extra careful when it comes to washing and cleansing your skin. Make sure you use gentle facial cleansers, don’t scrub your skin as this could easily exacerbate it, and only use warm water (both hot and cold water can cause skin to dehydrate and lose vital oils).

In order to help your skin heal, it’s best to avoid applying makeup. If you really feel you have to, make sure it’s non-comedogenic so it won’t block your pores, remove it gently, and then let your skin be exposed to the air.

Know Your Skin

How your skin reacts to certain products is unique to you, and you should be able to tell what’s normal and what’s not. When you introduce new skincare products into your regime, take time to monitor your skin and observe its response. If you’re at all worried, seek professional advice.

The great thing with a MiQuest subscription is that you have access to regular check-ins with our team who’ll be able to help and advise you about what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to skin reactions.

Sign up for a MiQuest subscription and you’ll have our expert team with you every step of the way as you journey towards the skin you’ve been dreaming of.

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