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Dermatologist’s Take on Popular Trends Series: Skin Barrier Repair

Glowing, healthy skin is always in style, and our team of expert dermatologists is here to help. In this month’s Dermatologist’s Take on Popular Trends Series, we’re diving into skin barrier repair with our very own Dr. Julie Fridlington. Learn all you need to know in our latest blog below!

What exactly is one’s skin barrier?

Dr. Julie: The outermost layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, functions as our skin barrier.  The skin barrier is essential, not just as our protective shield from external environmental threats such as chemicals and infectious agents. Yet also retaining moisture to keep the skin hydrated and prevent water loss.

How can the skin barrier become damaged? How do you recognize if yours is damaged?

Dr. Julie: Our skin barrier’s overall health and function are affected by several factors, including those we can’t control, like genetics and age. Daily we are exposed to a constant barrage of external threats to the health of our skin barrier, which can decrease its ability to perform.   Excessive UV exposure, dry and windy environments, chemical or toxin exposure, over-scrubbing or exfoliating, repeated cleansing with soaps and detergents, and exposure to certain medications and diseases can all cause breakdowns in our skin’s natural defenses.

Internal threats to our skin barrier, like stress, dehydration, and poor dietary choices, can also influence how well our barrier can perform. Collectively, these insults can add up to decrease the overall health and functioning of our protective shield over time. Evidence of barrier dysfunction can be seen with skin that is dull, dry, cracked, red, flaky, itchy, discolored, and rough in texture.

Photo of a woman applying skincare product to her face.

How can our skin barrier be repaired?

Dr. Julie: Protection from environmental threats with hats, sunblock, and sun-protective clothing is paramount for keeping the skin barrier healthy.  When it comes to skincare, a simple regimen can often be more beneficial than a cumbersome routine of products that have the potential to expose the skin to a multitude of potentially drying and irritating chemicals.  Pay attention to how your skin reacts to the products you are using.

Avoid over-exfoliating or scrubbing the skin, and monitor closely for signs of redness, irritation, and stinging. Gentle cleansers are less likely to strip the natural protective oil components of the skin barrier.  Be sure you are applying daily moisturizers, particularly those high in ceramides. Ceramides are waxy substances that are a natural component of the skin barrier and can be used daily to improve its integrity.  Another well-studied ingredient to help plump and add hydration to the skin is hyaluronic acid which can help the skin barrier retain its moisture.

How long does the skin barrier take to repair?

Dr. Julie: Depending on the damage’s severity and underlying cause, anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

What should you do to keep your skin barrier solid/healthy?

Dr. Julie: Protection from the sun and harmful UV radiation is paramount for long-term health and proper skin barrier functioning.  Gentle cleansing products that allow the skin to maintain its natural oils are preferable to daily harsh or abrasive scrubs.  Limit exfoliators to 2-3 x weekly and avoid over-scrubbing.  Moisturizers high in ceramides and hyaluronic acid can help maintain the skin barrier’s integrity and prevent moisture loss.  Dehydration in the body can lead to the depletion of moisture in the skin, which can be avoided by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Many common skin disorders like eczema, acne, and psoriasis can cause damage and dysfunction to the skin barrier.  Seeking treatment from a dermatologist and learning about the best treatments and products for specific disease states can be especially valuable.  The skin serves as a window to the overall health of our bodies.  Healthy dietary and lifestyle choices like exercise, tobacco avoidance, and minimizing alcohol consumption are essential for not just the health of our skin but our overall physical and mental health.

How would you rate skin barrier repair on a glow-up potential scale of 0-5?

Dr. Julie: A glow-up may be defined uniquely by each person.  Being healthy and confident in our skin is vital to feeling like our best selves.  When our skin barrier is intact and functioning to the best of its ability, our skin will be more radiant and luminous, allowing us to shine.  Therefore for this Dermatologist’s Take on Popular Trends series, skin barrier repair would rate as a solid 5 for glow-up potential.

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Spring has sprung, and Alamo Heights Dermatology is ready to help your skincare bloom! Learn more about our spring savings and all our services by visiting our website or calling us at (210) 255-8447 today!