What causes raw or sensitive skin and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Raw or sensitive skin can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition to deal with. It can cause redness, irritation, and even pain. Understanding the causes of raw or sensitive skin and knowing how to treat it can help alleviate these symptoms and improve the overall health of your skin. In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to raw or sensitive skin and provide effective remedies and skincare routines to help you find relief.

What Causes Raw or Sensitive Skin?

Raw or sensitive skin can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Environmental factors: Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as extreme cold or heat, can strip the skin of its natural moisture and protective barrier, leading to rawness and sensitivity.
  • Chemical irritants: Certain skincare products, such as those containing fragrances, dyes, or harsh chemicals, can irritate the skin and cause it to become raw and sensitive.
  • Allergies: Some individuals may have allergic reactions to certain substances, such as pollen, pet dander, or specific ingredients in skincare products, resulting in raw or sensitive skin.
  • Genetics: Some people are simply more prone to having sensitive skin due to their genetic makeup.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, can cause raw or sensitive skin as a symptom.

Skincare Routine for Raw or Sensitive Skin

Establishing a gentle and effective skincare routine is crucial for managing raw or sensitive skin. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Use Gentle Cleansers

Choose a mild, fragrance-free cleanser specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid harsh soaps or cleansers that contain sulfates, as they can further irritate the skin. Gently cleanse your face using lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.

2. Moisturize Regularly

Moisturizing is essential for maintaining the skin’s hydration and protecting its barrier. Opt for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizers that are specifically designed for sensitive skin. Apply moisturizer to damp skin after cleansing to lock in moisture.

3. Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can exacerbate raw or sensitive skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going outside, even on cloudy days. Wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves, and seek shade whenever possible.

4. Avoid Harsh Exfoliation

While exfoliating can help remove dead skin cells, it can also irritate raw or sensitive skin. Opt for gentle exfoliants, such as those containing fruit enzymes or mild acids, and limit exfoliation to once or twice a week.

5. Patch Test New Products

Before incorporating new skincare products into your routine, perform a patch test on a small area of your skin to check for any adverse reactions. This can help prevent further irritation and discomfort.

Natural Skincare Remedies for Raw or Sensitive Skin

In addition to a gentle skincare routine, there are several natural remedies that can help soothe and heal raw or sensitive skin:

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can provide relief to raw or sensitive skin. Apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera gel to the affected areas and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is known for its calming and moisturizing properties. Create a paste by mixing ground oatmeal with water and apply it to the skin for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water to reveal smoother and less irritated skin.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that can help soothe and protect raw or sensitive skin. Apply a thin layer of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil to the affected areas and gently massage it into the skin until fully absorbed.

4. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and irritation. Brew a cup of chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and then apply it to the skin using a clean cloth or cotton pad.

Sensitive Skin Products to Consider

When choosing skincare products for sensitive skin, look for those that are specifically formulated to be gentle and non-irritating. Here are some key ingredients to consider:

1. Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient that can help replenish moisture in the skin without causing irritation. Look for moisturizers or serums that contain hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated and plump.

2. Ceramides

Ceramides are lipids that help strengthen the skin’s barrier and retain moisture. Skincare products containing ceramides can help protect sensitive skin and prevent further irritation.

3. Calendula Extract

Calendula extract has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent ingredient for sensitive skin. Look for products that contain calendula extract to help calm and heal raw or irritated skin.


Raw or sensitive skin can be caused by various factors, including environmental conditions, chemical irritants, allergies, genetics, and medical conditions. Establishing a gentle skincare routine and incorporating natural remedies can help alleviate symptoms and improve the overall health of your skin. Remember to choose skincare products specifically formulated for sensitive skin and patch test new products before use. With proper care and attention, you can effectively manage raw or sensitive skin and enjoy a healthier complexion.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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