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The two faces of skin erythema: sensitive skin and rosacea


*Corresponding author
1. Immanence IDC Inc., 3229 ch. Quatre-Bourgeois, bureau 600, Québec (Québec), G1W 0C1, CANADA
2. CosmeConsult, 174 Rue 9e, Québec (Québec), G1L 2N1, CANADA


Skin redness is a growing cosmetic concern. Erythema may be transient and of variable intensity as seen in sensitive skin, or recurrent with a tendency to increase in magnitude over time as part of rosacea manifestations. There is often some confusion between the two phenomena. The present paper briefly reviews and compares the background, pathophysiology, and potential treatments of sensitive skin and rosacea, highlighting similarities, differences, and new developments in the comprehension of these two skin conditions.


People with sensitive skin have an exaggerate response to various stimuli normally considered as rather inoffensive. Triggers may come from the environment (ultraviolet, heat, cold, wind, dry air, pollution), from exposure to chemicals (cleaning products, cosmetics, soaps, fragrance), from mechanical stress (shaving, clothing), from psychological states (stress, emotions), and/or from hormonal fluctuations (menses). Manifestations include abnormal skin sensations such as tightness, itching, burning, stinging, prickling, pain, and/or pruritus (1). Erythema and flush, when present, are transient and of variable intensity (Figure 1). Complaints about sensitive skin usually involve the face, with the nasolabial fold as the most sensitive region. However, sensitivity may affect other localizations as well, most commonly the hands, the scalp, and the feet (2). Although not a medical condition, sensitive skin is disturbing for the afflicted peoples and negatively impacts their quality of life.

Prevalence and associated factors
The prevalence of this self-reported dermatological ...

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