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The term “sensitive skin” most often refers to a form of irritant contact dermatitis. This is defined as an inflammatory response of the skin to (an) externally applied agent(s) or factor(s) without requiring prior sensitisation, i.e., it is not due to allergy. Examples of such agents/factors include:

* Skin irritants, of which wet work is the most important. Although some chemicals can cause skin irritation in most people if exposed, it is usually a combination of several “mild” irritant agents/factors adding up to ICD.

* Irritating body fluids such as sweat, urine and faeces.

* Environmental factors such as heat, cold, low humidity and ultraviolet light.

* Mechanical factors eg friction, pressure, vibration and occlusion.

However host factors also influence susceptibility and these include age, sex, skin site and history of eczema.

Ten clinical types of ICD have been recognised, of which 8 present with clinically visible changes in the skin.

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