Putative neuronal mechanisms of sensitive skin

Exp Dermatol. 2009 May;18(5):417-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.00861.x.


According to epidemiological studies, up to 50% of adults report facial sensitivity with various distinctive symptoms, such as prickling, burning, tingling, pain or itching. This is termed sensitive skinand represents a syndrome of physiological reactions rather than a disease entity. In this review, we discuss the currently available literature on this syndrome and describe the possible underlying neuronal pathomechanisms. The sensory receptors expressed on unmyelinated nerve fibres and keratinocytes involved in nociception, such as TRPV1 and endothelin receptors, are hypothesized to play a role in the induction of sensitive skin. Furthermore, we discuss the role of neurotrophins and the influence of stress on sensitive skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Pain
  • Receptors, Endothelin / metabolism
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism


  • Ligands
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Receptors, Endothelin
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human