Long term cosmetic application improves tactile discrimination in the elderly; a new psychophysical approach


  • Aimonetti Jean-Marc
  • Deshayes Claire
  • Crest Marcel
  • Cornuault Pierre-Henri
  • Weiland Benjamin
  • Ribot-Ciscar Edith


  • Tactile discrimination
  • Haptic touch
  • Skin aging
  • Psychophysics
  • Cosmetic

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Introduction: Tactile sensitivity is impaired in older adults, which contributes to the loss of manual dexterity and mobility function. The reliability of classical psychophysical tests, such as two-point gap discrimination, has been questioned. Here we tested a new method to determine tactile acuity during dynamic touch, which is more functional than static touch. The aim was to validate a method providing a high level of discrimination of tactile acuity in the elderly. Methods: We tested the ability of subjects to evaluate the distance between bands printed on poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA) sheets. Pairs of sheets were compared in two groups of participants aged from 60 to 74 years; the test group was required to apply a cosmetic foam with an active ingredient on both their hands twice a day for 1 month, the control group had an identical task but used the same cosmetic foam without any active ingredient. The tests were run in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Results: The tactile discrimination threshold decreased by 83 µm after 1 month of cosmetic application in the group using the active ingredient, while it was unchanged in the control group. Discussion: The test presented here provided highly accurate results and should be useful to determine tactile performance. It allows the monitoring of tactile rehabilitation and/or skin treatments used to restore tactile acuity in the elderly.

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