Do Cultural Factors Affect the Perception of Sensitive Skin?

More than 50% of consumers in the Western world (USA and Europe) self-diagnose themselves as having “sensitive skin” and report unpleasant dermatological sensations to common exposures like weather or health and beauty products.  Cultural and geographical factors seem to play a role in the reporting of skin sensitivity.  Scientists have proposed that the geographic differences may represent a cultural phenomenon relating to media and advertising of products targeted for sensitive skin, where it has become fashionable to claim sensitive skin.

A recent publication by M.A. Farage

et al in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatology Sciences and Applications
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(2012)
reported the results of a study designed to gather sensitive skin data from 536 women in China to compare the prevalence of sensitive skin in a developing country to that in the US and other Western countries.   Only 23% of Chinese women claimed any degree of sensitive skin, which is substantially lower than that observed in most Western countries.  In a 2006 study conducted in Ohio by the same group, 68% of people surveyed claimed to have sensitive skin.  The questionnaire presented to respondents in both the US and China was identical.

Facial skin sensitivity also showed the same trend where 21% in China reported some degree of sensitivity compared to 77% in Ohio and 85% of women in France.  The most dramatic differences could be seen in the body and genital areas, where the US population shows that 61% and 56% have some degree of sensitivity on those areas respectively, compared to 9% and 6% respectively for the Chinese population.  Also, gender, age, and ethnicity seemed to influence skin sensitivity.

The findings that substantially fewer Chinese women claim skin sensitivity than their counterparts in the west would seem to bolster the supposition that sensitive skin has a cultural component.  Much work remains to be done in order to better understand both the dermatological and psychosocial aspects of sensitive skin in the global context.

Source:

Journal: Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications
DOI: 10.4236/jcdsa.2012.23035 (PDF)
Paper Id: 22382 (metadata)

See also: Comments to Paper

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