2 women share tips on coping with ultra-sensitive skin

SINGAPORE - Lim Yi Han talks to two women on how they cope with ultra-sensitive skin:

Mother-of-one Claudine Tay, 31

She put on make-up only for her wedding day about three years ago.

This is because she gets rashes and her cheeks turn red from cosmetics. Such symptoms usually last for a week, at least.

No wonder Ms Tay, who works as a centre manager at an eldercare centre, says cosmetics makes her "ugly". Fortunately, her job does not require her to doll up.

The mother of an 18-month-old boy is also unable to use facial cleansers as her skin will "feel tight, become dry and start to peel". As a result, she uses only water to clean her face.

"It has been like this since I was 15. I don't know if it was puberty that caused it."

She says in frustration: "I've tried many brands, from those sold in supermarkets to high-end products, but none of them has worked for me. They're a waste of money."

Moisturisers are out too because pimples form if she uses too much. So her complexion worsens when she goes overseas.

She says she always stocks up on facial sheet masks and drinks a lot of water to try to boost her skin condition to weather the stress of travelling.

"But when I come back from a trip, my skin will still suffer for weeks. It's quite stressful, especially if it's supposed to be a holiday," she laments.

She admits feeling self-conscious because of her skin condition but says she is resigned to it. Despite her condition, which has persisted for over a decade, she has not consulted a dermatologist because she says she cannot find time to do so.

She also admits she lacks the discipline to stick to any skincare regimen or medication that the dermatologist may put her through.

"I'll probably regret this when I'm older. I know the ability for cell renewal will drop as I age," she says.

"So I'll see a skin doctor one day. For now, I really have no time. I don't even sleep enough because I have a baby to look after."

Old school methods

Civil servant Rasyidah Idrus, 23

Facial cleansers and make-up can cause pimples to form on her face.

Ms Rasyidah discovered she had sensitive skin in 2010, when she kept having breakouts on her forehead. They soon became worse and her whole face was affected, with her pimples turning black at one point.

She has no idea what caused that flare-up and describes her skin condition as "unpredictable", as she does not know what will trigger a reaction and how bad it will be.

She believes her sensitive skin is a result of stress but she has consulted only a general practitioner and not a dermatologist.

She refused to take oral medication because she was afraid of possible side effects so she was prescribed a facial cream and cleansers. But she says those did not help much.

"A dermatologist is too expensive and I thought I should just wait and see if the condition will go away. Anyway, it isn't unbearably painful. It's more depressing than painful," she says.

She has also tried what she calls an "old school method" - a traditional remedy called "bedak sujuk", which means "cooling powder".

Her mother recommended the concoction, which was used in the old days to alleviate pimples and whiten the skin.

"It is made of rice grains which have been soaked for many months in water before being made into pastilles. I would add water to the pastilles and spread the paste evenly onto my face every night. It smells when you wash it off. It took me a while to get used to the smell."

That method helped to dry up and shrink her pimples, but she says her skin became too dry as a result and so, she stopped using the rice paste.

She admits to feeling insecure, uncomfortable and embarrassed when her skin flares up. But she has never allowed her skin condition to affect her social life significantly.

Help, however, is in sight. She found a cleanser which suits her, purely by chance. She picked up the product from a brand called Swiss Rituel at a personal care store and it has not caused her any problems so far.

"I'm going to stick to this. I've tried so many products and it's too much of a hassle to source for more."

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