The face and neck: regional variation in skin barrier function and reactivity

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Abstract

Background/aims:

Although there are many reports of regional variations in skin response to various stimuli, only a few studies have been performed on the face. The forearm is the most often used test site while the face is a frequent and specific target of many topical agents (drugs and cosmetics) and cosmetic procedures. The aim of this study was to compare regional variations of cutaneous sensation and skin barrier function in the cheek, neck and forearm before and after application of different stimuli (physical and/or chemical).

Methods:

Physiological changes of the skin were measured by non-invasive methods: TEWL (transepidermal water loss) and skin capacitance. Furthermore, clinical scoring and subjective sensations were reported. The anatomical sites evaluated were cheek, neck and volar forearm.

Results:

Great differences in clinical reactions, subjective sensations and skin barrier function in response to various stimuli have been observed between tested areas (cheek, neck and forearm). We observed a greater "sensitivity", i.e., more severe clinical reactions and subjective sensations of the cheek and neck areas, in relation to chemical stimuli as compared to the forearm. After a mechanical stimulus, the forearm was the most sensitive site, but just for subjective sensations. Concerning skin barrier function, the cheeks exhibited the highest values of TEWL and the forearms the lowest.

Conclusion:

In view of the high "sensitivity" of the cheek as compared to the forearm, it will be more cautious to assess the safety of facial cosmetics on the sites of intended use.

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