Why your skin barrier function matters and how to keep it healthy
One of the most trending terms in skin care right now is ‘skin barrier function’. But what is it and why does it matter? Let’s break it all down.
Firstly, the skin is made up of multiple layers which together function to keep nasties out (such as pathogens, toxins and UVB) and good guys in (nutrition and water). Each layer has a unique structure and function, but the most important layer for skin barrier function is the outermost layer, also known as the Stratum corneum (SC) or horny layer.
The SC is made up of skin cells that have reached full maturity and continuously shed as they naturally reach their expiry date. The SC can be thought of as a brick wall, with skin cells called corneocytes acting as the bricks and lipids produced from the lower skin layers acting as the mortar. When this brick wall functions correctly, the skin should appear healthy. When it doesn’t, this is referred to as ‘skin barrier dysfunction’.
What causes skin barrier dysfunction?
There are many triggers which contribute to poor skin barrier function. These can include the use of harsh detergents and cosmetics, dry climates, UV damage, pollution, infection, scratching and many more. Some of us are also genetically predisposed to have skin barrier dysfunction, especially if you have psoriasis or eczema.
What are the signs of skin barrier dysfunction?
One of the key signs of skin barrier dysfunction is dry, flaky skin due to the ability of moisture to escape through gaps in the ‘brick wall’. This is where having an effective psoriasis cream can come in handy.
What makes an effective psoriasis cream for healthy skin barrier dysfunction?
Applying a cream which contains natural lipids normally found in a healthy skin barrier can help to restore hydration and healthy skin barrier function. Non physiological lipids, such as mineral oils, can go a step further by creating a synthetic skin barrier, helping to hold the moisture and nutrients in the skin and provide protection to the skin whilst it repairs.
Creams which contain skin beneficial nutrients, such as zinc oxide, can also assist in skin barrier repair as well as helping to defend the vulnerable barrier against infection causing microbes such as Staphylococcus aureas.
What can you do at home to help skin barrier function?
- Avoid using detergents, protect your skin with rubber gloves where possible
- Keep your skin moisturized frequently, particularly if you live in Melbourne. Soratinex Emollient is specially designed to support skin barrier function in psoriasis prone skin.
- Drink plenty of water, aim for 8 cups of filtered water daily
- Avoid scratching or picking wherever possible – yes it takes willpower! (hint* try cold compresses to numb the itch)
- Eat a diet rich in skin healing nutrients such as zinc, proteins, and B vitamins from whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and lean meats – we love vegetable soups made with bone broth!