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Identifying Inflammation

By: Annet King
Posted: March 30, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Every person’s skin is a fluid, dynamic river of shifting conditions that are influenced by environment, diet, stress levels and lifestyle. Skin is never just one type; it’s an array of changing conditions, and thus a moving target. Although it’s a retailer’s dream for clients to develop loyalty to a favorite product, ensuring solid repeat sales, the fact is that their skin requires regular professional monitoring in order to adjust product recommendations. This is the valued role of the professional skin therapist. Just a brief 10-minute visual and tactile exam every other month becomes the basis for informed and effective professional treatment and at-home care.

Correctly naming a skin condition is the first step to understanding and treating it. This identification process must go further than merely observing symptoms. This is especially true when dealing with inflammation, because this syndrome is present in a variety of conditions, including sensitivity, sensitization, rosacea and even acne. Thus, understanding a condition must begin with a forensic investigation of the condition’s origins, not simply noting its symptoms and their characteristics.

Distinctions between sources

Understanding the various causes of similar symptoms is the key step in not only treating present symptoms, but also halting the syndrome that generates future ones. This distinction is at the heart of the sensitive or sensitized skin diagnosis. It also applies to removing other syndromes that involve inflammation, such as rosacea, from the mix. Rosacea is a progressive inflammatory disorder that begins with scratchy sensations and flushing associated with specific triggers, but can later lead to burst capillaries, facial swelling, acneic-type breakouts and much more serious consequences, such as rhinophoma and ophthalmic rosacea, which can lead to blindness. Although the symptoms may appear to be similar, their origins are different, requiring differing treatments and possibly some medical intervention.

It’s no mystery that more and more clients claim to have sensitive skin when, in fact, sensitized skin is on the rise. Much of this is due to the increased emphasis upon exfoliation as an age-fighting skin care strategy.

Stopping inflammation

What common triggers often result in the escalation of inflammation? The list is maddeningly diverse: hot drinks, cold drinks, hot weather, cold weather, spicy food, stress, and artificial fragrances and colors.