Objective Evaluation of Skin Sensitivity Across Fitzpatrick Skin Types

Celina E. Dubin, Grace W. Kimmel, Peter W. Hashim, John K. Nia, Joshua A. Zeichner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Context: Skin sensitivity may be best defined as self-reported intolerance to application of skincare products. It is commonly believed that individuals with darker skin are generally less sensitive, while those lighter skin are more sensitive. However, there is little objective data correlating sensitivity with skin type or with objective measures of sensitivity. Objective: This study assessed Fitzpatrick skin type and self-reported perception of skin sensitivity. Design: A single-blinded, lactic acid sting test was performed on the medial cheeks, where patients were randomized to receive room temperature 10% lactic acid on the left or right cheek with water applied to the contralateral cheek as a control. Outcome Measures: Stinging was assessed 1 minute after application of test solution to one cheek using a visual analogue scale (VAS). Results: There was a statistically significant difference in self-reported skin sensitivity in patients with Fitzpatrick skin types 1-3 vs 4-6 (73.6% vs 46.5%; P= 0.006). Patients who had higher perceived sensitivity were more likely to have objectively measured sensitivity as well, across all skin types (P<0.01). When stratified by skin type, a numerically higher percentage of subjects with Fitzpatrick skin types 1-3 experienced objective sensitivity compared to subjects with skin types 4-6 (45.6% vs 27.9; P=0.058). Conclusions: Patients with self-perceived skin sensitivity were more likely to develop objective stinging compared to those who did not report sensitivity. Skin sensitivity can occur across all skin types, and patients should be asked about self-perceptions of sensitivity as it is likely an indicator of true sensitivity. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020;19(7): doi:10.36849/JDD.2020.5880.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-701
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Drugs in Dermatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


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