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The complex problem of sensitive skin

Authors

  • Marie Marriott,

    Corresponding author
    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
      Marie Marriott
      Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre
      Unilever Colworth Laboratory
      Sharnbrook
      Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ
      UK
      Tel: +44 01234 222627
      Fax: +44 01234 264848
      e-mail: marie.marriott@unilever.com
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  • Jo Holmes,

    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
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  • Lisa Peters,

    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
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  • Karen Cooper,

    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
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  • Matthew Rowson,

    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
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  • David A. Basketter

    1. Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LQ, UK
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Marie Marriott
Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre
Unilever Colworth Laboratory
Sharnbrook
Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ
UK
Tel: +44 01234 222627
Fax: +44 01234 264848
e-mail: marie.marriott@unilever.com

Abstract

There exists within the population subsets of individuals who display heightened skin reactivity to materials the majority find tolerable. In a series of investigations, we have examined interrelationships between many of the endpoints associated with the term ‘sensitive skin’. In the most recent work, 58 volunteers were treated with 10% lactic acid, 50% ethanol, 0.5% menthol and 1.0% capsaicin on the nasolabial fold, unoccluded, with sensory reactions recorded at 2.5 min, 5 min and 8 min after application. Urticant susceptibility was evaluated with 1 m benzoic acid and 125 mM trans-cinnamic acid applied to the volar forearm for 20 min. A 2 × 23-h patch test was also conducted using 0.1% and 0.3% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 0.3% and 0.6% cocamidopropyl betaine and 0.1% and 0.2% benzalkonium chloride to determine irritant susceptibility. As found in previous studies, increased susceptibility to one endpoint was not predictive of sensitivity to another. In our experience, nasolabial stinging was a poor predictor of general skin sensitivity. Nevertheless, it may be possible to identify in the normal population individuals who, coincidentally, are more generally sensitive to a range of non-immunologic adverse skin reactions. Whether such individuals are those who experience problems with skin care products remains to be addressed.

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