Sensitive Skin Syndrome: Methodological Approaches

Howard I. Maibach, MD, is professor of derma­tology, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco. His labor­atory has been interested in and has published exten­sively on derm­ato­pharma­cology and dermatotoxicology. Miranda A. Farage, PhD, is a principle scientist at The Procter & Gamble Company, Feminine Care Innovation Center, Winton Hill Business Center, Cincinnati, USA, where her work interests include dermatotoxicology, clinical method developments, vulvology, skin sensitivity, physiology, subclinical sensory effects and overall quality of life in dermatology. She earned her doctorate in toxicology/pharmacology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Farage is co-author of more than 150 publications, books and patents. She is co-editor with Howard Maibach on the book titled The Vulva: Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology.

Manufacturers of topical products perform rigorous testing to assure that their products are safe for consumers. Of particular interest is determining whether products will irritate the skin of the approximately 50% of consumers surveyed who consider themselves to have “sensitive” skin.

Several approaches have been used to study the irritation potential of cosmetics, soaps and other toiletries. Various chemical and mechanical irritants have been tested, as have several methods of assessing the response to irritants. The three primary testing methods include sensory reactivity tests, irritant reactivity tests and dermal function tests (see Tables 1-3).

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