What is sensitive skin? A systematic literature review of objective measurements

Reneé Richters, Denise Falcone, Natallia Uzunbajakava, Willem Verkruysse, Piet van Erp, Peter van de Kerkhof

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Despite sensitive skin being highly prevalent, no consensus on the definition and pathomechanism of sensitive skin exists. Here we report the results of a systematic literature review of diagnostic methods for sensitive skin at clinical, histological and biophysical levels. A systematic search revealed 27 out of 1,701 articles which we appraised in detail. Impaired skin barrier function and increased vascular reactivity are most often associated with sensitive skin. We identified key reasons causing an ambiguity around the sensitive skin phenomenon. We propose using standardized selection methods of subjects by a multifactorial questionnaire spanning a range of provocations, including those of chemical, mechanical and environmental origin, followed by clinical, histological and top-notch biophysical measurements. This could lead to a breakthrough in the understanding of the sensitive skin phenomenon, fueling advances of biomedical and dermatological science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalSkin Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biophysical measurements
  • Multifactorial questionnaires
  • Sensitive skin


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