Sensitive skin syndrome, also called intolerant, reactive, hyper-reactive or irritable, it is a common syndrome in Europe. A prevalence of 50% among women and 30% in males is estimated.
Sensitive skin is one which reacts in an exaggerated manner to stimuli such as wind, UV radiation, cold, cosmetics, daily hygiene, pollution, stress, hormonal changes etc The identifiable objective signs are: telangiectasia, dryness, peeling, erythema and edema. While subjective symptoms described are itchyness, tightness, warm skin, hard tingling sensation and severe irritation.
The symptoms of sensitive skin are caused by an abnormal penetration of irritants through the epidermis, due to a deficit barrier function. Alterations in the epidermis are seen in intercellular lipids that prevent proper compaction of the cell layers. The stratum corneum is more brittle and protection from the external environment is lower.
Also, with sensitive skin there is less tolerance to external stimuli with a sensory dysfunction in the nerve endings in the skin and a decreased tolerance threshold to external stimuli. Thus, stimulus on normal skin would not cause any reaction, however on sensitive skin triggers signs of irritation, itching and burning.