The skin barrier is a thin and almost transparent layer of dead skin cells and lipids, which permeates our whole body. This barrier plays a key role in the maintenance of normal water content in our bodies. The skin acts as the first line of defense against moisture loss or invasion of pathogens. The skin barrier, which is composed of two layers including the epidermis and the dermis, has an important role in skin health.
The epidermis of the skin is mainly composed of keratinocytes, which are differentiated into cornified (or hyperkeratotic) cells that are filled with keratin. The epidermis also contains several layers of lipids including ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids.
The primary function of the skin’s barrier is to protect our body from infection, dehydration, physical damage, and other harmful external substances. Consequently, a proper functioning skin barrier is essential for normal skin function.
While washing our face, using harsh soap and face packs, each and every day can damage our skin cells and collagen fibers too. In this article, we will discuss the causes and effects of skin barrier getting damaged and how to reverse damaged skin barrier.
Reasons for Damaged Skin Barrier
This is a question asked by millions of people, making the skin barrier a widely talked about topic in recent times. Many also ask what actually causes the skin's barrier to become damaged.
The skin barrier is the first line of defense against attack from the external environment. When the skin barrier is damaged, the body is exposed to external infection, excoriations, eczema, and other skin injuries.
The skin’s moisture barrier gets compromised due to various reasons. Scientists have identified many reasons but the main cause is dry skin.
- Dry skin is one of the most common issues of people. The reason behind dry skin is the imbalance between water and oil. In order to get rid of this problem, you need to introduce water into your skin. Water helps in restoring the balance of oil in the skin. At the same time, it locks the moisture content while preventing your skin from losing it. Tools that can be used include water, olive oil, and moisturizing lotion.
Our skin acts as a protective shield from the external environment. But sometimes it is harmed due to certain reasons. Here is a list of some of the other common reasons that lead to damage of skin barrier:
- Exposure to harsh weather conditions
- Stress and anxiety
- Improper diet
- Cosmetic products with harmful ingredients or Fungicides
- Overexposure to Sunlight
- Infections in the skin
- Poor blood circulation in the body
- Lack of sleep
8 Effective Ways to Repair Skin’s Moisture Barrier
Skin Care is an important issue for everyone who cares about his/her appearance. In fact, it is important to look good because when you look good, you feel good. There are certain tips and tricks that treat and prevent skin damage and here’s how you can protect your skin from external factors for better and clear-looking skin.
- Simplify your skincare routine: The main goal of a skincare routine is to minimize and prevent future damage to your skin by avoiding skincare mistakes. This means that every time you go to sleep, you need to be mindful of your pillowcases because they are the source of the dirt that can clog your pores and cause skin issues. To reduce those particles, use a hot washcloth to wipe your face before going to bed and wash it the next morning with a mild cleanser.
- Avoid Sun exposure: Apart from genetic factors, skin damage is mostly triggered by harmful UV rays, pollution, stress, smoking, and an unhealthy diet. Unprotected sun exposure and harsh environmental conditions in the summer months can cause irreversible skin damage. Avoid exposure to the sun during midday. The UV radiations are most hazardous from 10 am to 4 pm. Cover your body with loose cotton clothes or better wear a hat and sunglasses for protection. Keep application of sunscreen or moisturizer a daily habit.
- Try plant oils: Research shows that some plant oils can help in repairing the skin’s barrier. They can also prevent your skin barrier from losing moisture. These oils have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Some of the essential plant oils for the skin include jojoba oil, coconut oil, argan oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, almond oil, etc. You can use creams and lotions that contain these oils to reap their benefits.
- Reduce exfoliation: Many people are becoming habituated to using exfoliating products on a daily basis but mind you, inquisitive readers, exfoliating products are one of the biggest contributors to damaging your skin’s moisture barrier. Frequent exfoliation can strip off your skin’s protective barrier due to which the moisture can escape. This accelerates the process of skin aging and leaves the skin feeling dry and rough.
- Avoid hot showers: Hot showers can instantly dilate the capillaries and raise the skin’s internal temperature. This can damage your skin’s moisture barrier. So, the best option is to use lukewarm water, especially during winter when the barrier is most fragile and sensitive to damage.
- Avoid trying out new skincare products: It might not be the best idea to try out different skincare products to repair your skin barrier because the ingredients in the skincare products have a greater chance of irritating your skin and worsening the condition.
- Vitamin supplements: Vitamin E is an antioxidant and its major role is to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. It also helps in preventing dark spots and wrinkles. Vitamin F supplements have also been shown to improve symptoms of dry and flaky skin and may be helpful for those with eczema. Getting rid of itchy and flaky skin. The essential fatty acids can help lessen the dryness of your skin and thereby keep it soft and supple. Omega 3 rich foods can help by keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated.
- Ceramides and phytoceramides: Ceramides and phytoceramides are natural ingredients that are found in various skin care products. They help to repair, protect and maintain the skin's natural moisture. They also help the skin cells retain their water content and plumpness. Ceramides are a natural lipid that’s responsible for keeping the intercellular skin barrier highly effective. Ceramide is made up of a sphingoid base and an amide chain. As we age, our body produces fewer ceramides, and this leads to a weakened skin barrier and therefore dryer and more damaged skin. Ceramides play an important role in desquamation, which is the corny way of saying exfoliation. When your skin cells shed, they have to go somewhere. Sphingolipids like ceramide are manufactured in the lower layers of the epidermis and serve as the carriers for old skin cells, carrying them off to be shed from the body.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and has a very important role in protecting our body, backing harmful bacteria, and cleaning the toxins. The outer layer of our skin is called the epidermis, and the one below is the dermis. The epidermis contains cells called keratinocytes that are renewed continuously. When a keratinocyte grows old, it becomes hard and glassy and is eventually sloughed off.
The dermis contains connective tissues which give strength to the skin. Blood vessels are embedded in the dermis and provide oxygen and food to the cells in the deeper layers of the skin. The blood vessels serve as conduits for a variety of immune cells that play a role in maintaining healthy skin by fighting off invading pathogens.