Why is using an emollient on your skin so important?

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Skin accounts for 15% or more of total body weight and is the largest organ of your body. Given this fact, if barrier disruption occurs the knock-on effect can be felt systemically, throughout the entire body, and can even impact your mood.

The process goes something like this – skin dryness leads to barrier disruption, which leaves the skin open to microbial invasion and penetration of foreign substances. The lack of barrier lipids and invading substances trigger the skin’s immune system, which leads to cytokine production. (Cytokines are inflammatory messengers).

These cytokines can get into the circulation and have a whole-body effect, causing inflammation that can affect the heart, joints, or even the mind, and your moods.

The fact is emollients do so much more than merely moisturize your skin…

“Until recently, the scientific community didn’t believe that skin could contribute to systemic inflammation and disease,” said study lead author Theodora Mauro, M.D, a professor of dermatology at UCSF and the SFVA Health Care System. “But in the last five years, studies of psoriasis and dermatitis have shown that skin inflammation from these diseases likely increases the risk of heart disease.”1.

It has now been shown that applying emollients topically can reduce systemic cytokine levels, thus reducing whole body inflammation.

A daily application of an emollient serves as a great preventative for skin flare-ups, as well as playing an essential role in staying well overall.

Simply applying an emollient daily can achieve the following:

  • Relieve irritation and itching, soothe the skin, and reduce soreness.
  • Reduce skin scaling and cracking, making it feel softer and appear less dry.
  • Improve absorption of active ingredients or topical therapies. Emollients can act as a carrier substance for better penetration of active ingredients such as essential oils
  • Protects the skin from damage such as easy abrasions, fissures and reduce the likelihood of the Koebner phenomenon, which is the development of psoriasis at the sight of skin injury.

The take-home message is don’t just apply an emollient when a skin flare occurs, do it as a daily habit to minimize the occurrence and severity of a flare-up.

The Soratinex Team

  1. L.Ye; T M Mauro; E Dang; G Wang; L Z Hu; C Yu; S Jeong; K Feingold; P M Elias; C Z Lv; MQ Man. Topical Applications of an Emollient Reduce Circulating Pro‐Inflammatory Cytokine Levels in Chronically Aged Humans: A Pilot Clinical Study. 05 March 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.15540