Ethnic groups and sensitive skin: two examples of special populations in dermatology

Joachim W. Fluhr, Razvigor Darlenski, Enzo Berardesca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The knowledge about skin physiology of specific subpopulations leads to an increase in specific therapeutic options, for example, for sensitive skin and ethnic groups. The understanding and quantification of racial differences in skin functions are important for the treatment and prevention of skin diseases and skin care. A key feature that characterises race is skin colour: pigmented skin is different from fair skin in terms of responses to chemical and environmental insults and requires specific skin care. Different risk factors among racial groups for the development of skin disease after exposure to the same insults have been described. The interpretation of pathophysiological phenomena should consider not only anatomical and functional characteristics of ethnic groups but also socioeconomic, hygienic and nutritional factors. Sensitive skin is a second area where a subpopulation of dermatological patients needs special attention. On the basis of recent findings on the somatosensory and neurophysiologic mechanism of skin sensitivity, the diagnostic approach to this condition and the role of skin hyper-reactivity for the development of skin diseases have been studied. Sensitive skin is a complex problem with genetic, individual, environmental, occupational and ethnic implications. The role of biological (racial differences), social, economical and psychological (ethnic variations) factors for the skin sensitivity are reflected in the concept of 'ethnic sensitive skin'. The present review will allow the readership to gain insights in recently acquainted knowledge regarding skin physiology, diseases and therapy in distinct ethnic groups and sensitive skin populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug Discovery Today: Disease Mechanisms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine


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