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Do ethnicity and gender have an impact on pain thresholds in minor dermatologic procedures?

A study on thermal pain perception thresholds in Asian ethnic groups


Gil Yosipovitch
Department of Dermatology # Neuroscience
Wake Forest University Health Sciences Center
Winston Salem
NC 27157, USA
Fax: +1 716 7732


Background and Objectives: The perception of pain is a personal experience influenced by many factors, including genetic, ethnic and cultural issues. Understanding these perceptions is especially important in dermatologic patients undergoing minor surgical operations and who often differ in their pain response to surgical treatments. Little is known about how these differences affect the perception of experimental pain. The purpose of this study was to determine experimental pain perception differences in three distinct East Asian ethnic populations.

Methods: Pain thresholds were examined with a psychophysical computerized quantitative thermal sensory testing device (TSA 2001) in healthy volunteers recruited from three different Asian ethnic groups. Using the methods of limits, experimental pain perception threshold was measured on the forehead and volar aspect of the forearm in 49 healthy subjects. The measurements were then repeated after skin barrier perturbation with adhesive tape stripping of the stratum corneum. All three ethnic groups were analyzed separately with respect to age, gender educational level and skin type.

Results: A total of 20 Chinese, 14 Malay and 15 Indian subjects completed the study. Thermal pain thresholds were similar in all three ethnic groups before and after tape strippings. No significant differences were noted between genders.

Conclusions: Using quantitative sensory thermal testing, we demonstrated that no significant differences in pain occur between different races and genders.