A model for perception-based identification of sensitive skin

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With high prevalence of sensitive skin (SS), lack of strong evidence on pathomechanisms, consensus on associated symptoms, proof of existence of ‘general’ SS and tools to recruit subjects, this topic attracts increasing attention of research.


To create a model for selecting subjects in studies on SS by identifying a complete set of self-reported SS characteristics and factors discriminatively describing it.


A survey (n = 3058) was conducted, comprising questions regarding socio-demographics, atopy, skin characteristics, personal care, degree of self-assessed SS and subjective and objective reactions to endogenous and exogenous factors. Exploratory factor analysis on 481 questionnaires was performed to identify underlying dimensions and multivariate logistic regression to find contributing variables to the likelihood of reporting SS.


The prevalence of SS was found to be 41%, and 56% of SS subjects reports a concomitant atopic condition. The most discriminative were the eliciting factors toiletries and emotions, and not specific skin symptoms in general.


Triggers of different origins seem to elicit SS, it is not defined by concomitant skin diseases only, suggesting existence of ‘general’ SS. A multifactorial questionnaire could be a better diagnostic than a one-dimensional provocative test.

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