Background: Several instrumental methods can indirectly assess some specific aspects of cutaneous irritation at the level of the stratum corneum (SC). Objective: There is a need for developing more sensitive approaches in this field. Methods: We assessed a recently introduced innovative tool (SkinChip®) based on capacitive pixel-sensing technology in its potential to detect early discrete manifestations of skin irritation. The sensor generates a detailed non-optical picture corresponding to a capacitance map of the skin surface reaching 50 µm pixel resolution. Some topographical details can be easily disclosed and the SC hydration as well. Two surfactant solutions were tested on volunteers. These solutions were applied under test patches for 2 days on the volar forearms. Clinical and SkinChip assessments were performed 3 h after removing the patch. Results: The generated images allowed a precise observation of skin irritation which appeared as a two-step process. Early changes consisted of darker pixels corresponding to overhydrated swollen corneocytes at the irritated sites. Two days later, the same area appeared as white pixels, indicating the loss of corneocyte hydration. Conclusion: The SkinChip device appears to be a very sensitive tool for detecting the early steps of surfactant-induced skin irritation affecting the SC.

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