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Dermatology Residency Programs Lack Specific, Comprehensive Education on Sensitive Skin


Research from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences was recently published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

While as many as 99% of dermatology residents believe their education should include sensitive skin education, only 48% reported receiving specific education on the topic.

The findings were reported in a recent study published by researchers at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), wherein researchers investigated the educational exposure and perspectives of dermatology resident physicians regarding sensitive skin.1 Published in the February edition of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology2 and led by Erika McCormick, a fourth-year medical student, and Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, chair of the Department of Dermatology at GW SMHS, the study sheds light on the importance of incorporating comprehensive education on sensitive skin into residency programs.

While sensitive skin is estimated to affect approximately 70% of the global population, with 40% of individuals experiencing sensitive skin as their only skin condition, researchers noted a lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria and management strategies. According to study authors, this is the first known study to assess the inclusion of sensitive skin within dermatology residency curricula.

Study authors developed a 26-question survey uploaded to the platform SurveyMonkey. Questions were approved by the George Washington University Institutional Review Board and distributed to dermatology resident physicians registered to the Orlando Dermatology, Aesthetic, and Surgical Conference e-mail list.

With a 28% response rate, 214 residents from across the United States completed the survey.

As a result of the study, researchers found that 99% of dermatology residents believe that sensitive skin education should be included in their residency training. Despite this, only 48% of residents reported receiving specific education on sensitive skin. In the context of other skin diseases, just over half of respondents (51%) reported they had received non-specific education.

Furthermore, it was reported that residents who received specific sensitive skin education demonstrated significantly higher levels of knowledge in sensitive skin diagnosis, clinical evaluation, and management compared to their counterparts.

There was also a lack of consensus among residents regarding the primary etiology of sensitive skin, with opinions ranging from skin barrier alteration to external/environmental factors and immune dysregulation.

This diversity, researchers noted, underscores the complexity of sensitive skin and highlights the need for standardized guidelines in its management. Current management approaches were found to be heterogeneous in nature.

"The study underscores the importance of incorporating specific and comprehensive education on sensitive skin into dermatology residency programs. By enhancing residents’ knowledge and understanding of sensitive skin, they will be better equipped to diagnose, evaluate, and manage patients with this condition effectively," according to a news release from GW SMHS. "The authors suggest that a crucial step in improving sensitive skin education during dermatology residency is to bolster research on the topic and develop evidence-based guidelines. This will not only benefit the residents in their training but also improve the quality of care provided to patients with sensitive skin."


  1. George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Spreading the word about sensitive skin solutions. GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. April 11, 2024. Accessed April 12, 2024. https://smhs.gwu.edu/news/spreading-word-about-sensitive-skin-solutions
  2. McCormick ET, Friedman A. Sensitive skin: A survey of dermatology resident physicians’ perspectives and educational exposures. January 30, 2024. Accessed April 12, 2024. https://jddonline.com/articles/sensitive-skin-a-survey-of-dermatology-resident-physicians-perspectives-and-educational-exposures-S1545961624P0085X/
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