Tiny, new skin sensor can quickly detect psoriasis

June 2, 2021
Tiny, new skin sensor can quickly detect psoriasis

Collaboration between scientists at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and Northwestern University in Illinois, US, has yielded a new electrochemical invention that can detect skin disorders based on tissue stiffness. Measuring just 2.5 mm thick by about 2 sq. cm (0.3 sq. in) in contact area, the hard-wired sensor is expected to allow faster and easier diagnoses of problematic skin conditions such as psoriasis.

There already are diagnostic systems that measure the tensile stiffness of the skin, which is either stiffer or softer than normal with most skin conditions. Unfortunately, these are typically large devices that have to be operated by trained technicians – plus they can only “read” the very outermost layer of the skin.

By contrast, the inexpensive new sensor can be utilised by doctors in their offices, or even by people monitoring their skin health in their own homes. It can simply be placed on a person’s skin, in a location where a problem is suspected; an alternating electrical current applied through coils on the device then causes an integrated magnet to rapidly vibrate and sends pressure waves up to 8 mm down into the skin. That skin rapidly deforms in response to those waves, although the extent to which it does so is determined by its tensile stiffness. A strain-sensing sheet on the underside of the sensor measures those skin deformations, relaying them to a linked computer that translates the data into a skin stiffness value. That value can then be checked against those associated with specific skin disorders.

The device has already been the subject of clinical studies, in which it was used on both the hair-bearing and hairless skin of patients with skin problems – it was found to reliably detect psoriasis after just one minute of use and should be capable of detecting other conditions once the technology is developed further.

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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