Habits that irritate your skin too much – from dermatological practice

There are certain skin care habits that we all know are not great for your skin: such as going to bed without removing your make-up, insufficient sun protection when you are at the water/beach or washing your face with a regular block of hand soap. These are quite logical examples, but there are other habits that are not always good for your skin. These then fall under the heading of ‘bad habits’ for your skin barrier.

Just a dermatological refresher, what is your skin barrier?

Your skin barrier acts as your skin’s natural protective layer. It has, among other things, a sebum layer, acidity and its own skin microbiome (that is a layer of “good bacteria” that keeps your skin healthy).

When this ecosystem is disturbed by internal influences (bad sleep, stress, junk food, medicines) or external influences (season, heating/air conditioning), this can lead to a whole range of problems, including dryness and skin irritation.

A properly functioning skin barrier is necessary to retain moisture in the skin.

One of the habits – body lotion on dry skin

A body lotion spreads nicely, does not stick and absorbs ‘well’. But did you know that it makes the skin drier? A body lotion contains more water compared to a cream or ointment. Because it contains relatively more water, it glides more smoothly over the skin, but water evaporates on the skin. Evaporation drains more moisture from the skin leading to drier skin. Dryer skin will flake, then itch and finally it can become eczematous. The dermatological diagnosis is then made: asteatotic eczema, eczema based on and dry skin.

Hot or frequent showering

Hot shower is soothing to your mind. A morning ritual to wake up and in the evening to relax.

Hot water is really something that can be harmful to the skin, it can strip your skin of essential lipids and proteins and your skin’s acidity is disrupted. This makes it much easier to lead to drier skin, disruption of your skin microbiome and eczema.

Ideally, your shower should be warm (not too hot) and short. If you really can’t live without those steamy showers, try to keep it short. Make sure you use a moisturizing cream, ointment or oil to restore your skin barrier.

Exfoliate frequently

Habits That Irritate Your Skin

Scrubbing or exfoliating your skin too much. Exfoliate your skin to remove superficial dead skin cells. This ensures that your skin looks fresher.

If you have a normal or a oily skin, you can exfoliate 2-3 times a week. Is the skin sensitive limit it to a maximum of 2 x per week.

There are several ways to exfoliate your skin. 1. sugar, salt or plastic microbeats scrubs – the latter is less sustainable and bad for the environment 2. fruit acids – AHA, BHA, glycolic acid, salicylic acid and 3. brushes.

Brushes work well but can irritate the skin more.

For those with sensitive skin build it up gently and start once a week and with low-concentrated fruit acid such as BHA.

Signs of over-exfoliation are: dry skin, irritation, redness, burning, shine on the skin without skin care cream and sometimes also pustules because the skin barrier is disrupted.

Bonus: Citrus juice mask – from your Do It Yourself list

A peeling to prepare your skin for spring by removing your excess skin cells. Citrus fruit is sometimes used in face masks or peeling to make it smell nice. The nice fresh scent is limonene, one of the components of citrus fruits. But at the same time, it can cause a skin allergy for many people. And also certain substances in citrus fruits in combination with sunlight can cause a photo-toxic skin reaction. This skin reaction is accompanied by redness, itching and sometimes blisters after several hours in the sun. Limonene-containing skin care products that you buy at the store are balanced and low in concentration.

Mioduszewski M, Beecker J. Phytophotodermatitis From Making Sangria: A Phototoxic Reaction To Lime And Lemon Juice.


Mioduszewski M, Beecker J. Phytophotodermatitis from making sangria: a phototoxic reaction to lime and lemon juice. CMAJ. 2015;187(10):756.

While you’re here

The skin flakes, it is dry and itchy. What is this, do I have eczema or very dry skin? There are some clues to tell these two skin conditions apart. The major difference between dry skin and eczema is the presence of inflammation (inflammation). In eczema, the skin barrier does not work properly, which leads to moisture loss from the skin and disturbances in the top layer of skin (epidermis). If your skin is red, itchy, and flaky, it’s probably more than just dry skin and you probably have eczema.

Another important clue between eczema and dry skin is that eczema gets worse if not treated properly. It can then lead to other complaints such as tears, cracks, skin thickening and intense itching. People with eczema are also more prone to skin infections due to a disrupted skin barrier. More on: do I have eczema or very dry skin.


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