How do perceptions of sensitive skin differ at different anatomical sites? An epidemiological study

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2009 Dec;34(8):e521-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2009.03487.x. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


Background: People with sensitive skin vary not only in the signs and symptoms they experience, but also in the degree of sensitivity at different anatomical sites.

Aim: To determine patterns of perceived sensitive skin using an epidemiological approach among a general population, evaluating the results for ethnic, gender and age differences.

Methods: Questionnaires designed to evaluate perceptions of sensitive skin in general and at specific body sites (face, body and genital area) were given to 1039 people. Respondents were not selected based on any criteria related to sensitive skin, but consisted of people participating in other studies on consumer products.

Results: Of the study population, 68.4% claimed their skin was sensitive to some degree, 77.3% claimed sensitive facial skin, 60.7% claimed sensitive body skin and 56.3% claimed sensitive skin in the genital area. There were no significant gender, ethnic or age differences, except in the genital area; a higher percentage of women and African Americans claimed sensitive skin in this area.

Conclusions: The prevalence of perceived sensitive skin was higher in this study than in previous reports. Individuals had different perceptions about the degree of sensitivity at different anatomical sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Dermatitis, Contact* / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Contact* / ethnology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Facial Dermatoses* / epidemiology
  • Facial Dermatoses* / ethnology
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / epidemiology
  • Genital Diseases, Female / ethnology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / epidemiology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / ethnology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Irritancy Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult