Sensitive skin: perceptions, evaluation, and treatment

Am J Contact Dermat. 1997 Jun;8(2):67-78.


Background: Patients with sensitive skin can present a challenge for dermatologists and cosmetic chemists alike. Knowledge of this common skin condition and appropriate dermatologic treatment, in combination with a rational approach to skin-care product selection, are important to patient well-being.

Objective: This report summarizes the subjective and objective findings in patients with sensitive skin while presenting a theory to explain disease physiology. Finally, a recommended treatment approach and formulation guidelines are presented.

Conclusion: Sensitive skin possesses one or more of the following anatomic cutaneous changes: heightened neurosensory input, enhanced immune responsiveness, and/or diminished barrier function. Cosmetic and skin-care product formulation considerations for sensitive skin include products with a paucity of ingredients, absence of common sensitizers, minimum number of irritants, and absence of cutaneous sensory or vasodilatory stimulants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology


  • Cosmetics