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GIORNALE ITALIANO DI DERMATOLOGIA E VENEREOLOGIA

A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2007 December;142(6):631-8

language: English

Sensitive skin and individual predisposing factors in contact dermatitis

Marriott M. 1, Basketter D. 2

1 Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre Unilever, Colworth Science Park Sharnbrook, Bedford, UK
2 St John’s Institute of Dermatology St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK


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There exist within the population subsets of individuals who report heightened skin reactivity to materials the majority find tolerable. The prevalence of self-assessed sensitive skin is reported to be particularly high in the general population, approximately 50% of individuals surveyed report the condition. The difficulties in verifying these claims are vast due to the complexity of the condition and the variability in clinical manifestations which are reported. At present the subject of sensitive skin remains complex and a clear definition elusive. It has been suggested that in order to optimise the safety of personal care products the identification and use of sensitive skin panels may be an important way forward. Currently a variety of different test methods which focus on different irritation endpoints are used to investigate sensitive skin, however, the evidence presented to date suggests that reactivity to one irritant is not necessarily indicative of reactivity to another. Individuals identified as sensitive using these test methods have yet to be conclusively correlated with those who report an intolerance to normal use of a cosmetic product. This review discusses the complexities involved in defining and classifying sensitive skin, and the controversies that surround the methodologies currently employed to investigate sensitive skin.

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