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What’s Important?

  1. People mean different things when they say they have sensitive skin, so a standardized classification system should be adopted.

  2. There are four subtypes of sensitive skin in the Baumann Skin Typing System: acne, rosacea, stinging, and allergic.

What’s New?

  1. Inflammation plays such a large role in aging that the term “inflammaging” is now used.

  2. Seventy-two percent of patients who have seen a medical doctor for skincare recommendations were diagnosed with sensitive skin.

What’s Coming?

  1. Studies looking at neuroimmunology and the effects of skin inflammation are being conducted and will provide insights into the causes and treatments of inflammation.

Sensitive skin, which can be very distressing to those who have it, is a condition characterized by hypersensitivity to stimuli that often results in inflammation. When patients develop a reaction to a product, they may blame the doctor, aesthetician, or skincare brand, so it is important for the physician-patient relationship to identify underlying susceptibility to inflammation before prescribing any skincare routine for sensitive skin. A strong majority (78%) of consumers who have sensitive skin state that they have avoided a particular product or brand because of past skin reactions.1 Those with frequent skin reactions often learn to limit their use of skin products to the few that do not cause inflammation in order to avoid the annoyance of acne, redness, and itching that can interfere with everyday activities. Those with frequent skin reactions report a decrease in quality of life and frustration is a common complaint. In a French study of more than 2000 individuals, it was found using the SF-12 questionnaire that those with sensitive skin reported a poorer quality of life compared to those without sensitive skin.2


Epidemiologic surveys show a high prevalence of sensitive skin. In a phone survey of 800 ethnically diverse women in the US, 52% described having sensitive skin.1 In a UK mail survey of 2058 people, 51.5% of the women and 38.2% of the men reported having sensitive skin.3 Sensitive skin is most commonly reported on the face. However, one study showed that 85% of the 400 subjects evaluated described sensitive skin on the face, while 70% reported sensitive skin in other areas: hands (58%), scalp (36%), feet (34%), neck (27%), torso (23%), and back (21%).4

The Baumann Skin Type Indicator Questionnaire was used to skin type patients seen in medical practices and found that of the 102,216 patients who took the questionnaire, 72% had at least one type of sensitive skin.5 These were patients seen in a medical practice, usually a dermatology practice, so the survey was skewed towards those with a skin complaint, leaving this high number of sensitive skin reports unsurprising.


Sensitive skin types are characterized by inflammation. The exception is Type 3, the stinging type, ...

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