Tag Archive: ceramides

Best Tips to Manage Dry Skin

September 25, 2018
Dry Skin Treatment by Dermatologist

Dry skin (medically known as xerosis) usually appears rough, scaly and even itchy. Xerosis can be caused by factors ranging from cold weather to frequent showering, and is also a common symptom of several chronic skin diseases. While xerosis is not a critical condition, it can cause significant discomfort, affect one’s appearance, and accelerate skin’s aging.

So what causes xerosis and how can it be managed?

What is dry skin?

In normal skin, lipids and natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) are needed to maintain barrier function and optimal skin hydration. NMFs attract water molecules while lipids controls the amount of skin that evaporates from the skin surface.

NMFs keep the skin hydrated by binding to water and holding onto it, preventing excessive water loss as the skin cells have sufficient hydration to remain turgid. An effective skin barrier keeps the skin’s water content at a healthy level of 15 to 20 per cent.

Dry or dehydrated skin has reduced NMF levels which compromises the skin’s ability to retain water. As a result, moisture is lost much faster than replenished. When the skin’s water content falls below 10 percent, visible scales form and the skin starts to have a rough dry appearance. Individuals with dry skin can also often notice cracks or experience flaking.

The precise organisation of lipids are important as it determines the amount of water that can be trapped in the skin. In healthy skin, sufficient lipids are present to keep Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) values low, as less water is lost to the surroundings.

What causes dry skin?

Dry skin arises largely due to abnormal epidermal differentiation.

The epidermis is produced by cells that divide and proliferate in the deeper skin layers before travelling towards the skin surface. At the surface, skin cells mature, flatten and die. These dead skin cells are sealed together with fatty lipids to form a continuous skin barrier. This process is termed epidermal differentiation.

A disruption in the skin barrier can cause epidermal differentiation to become abnormal and the skin barrier function to become damaged. This disruption can happen for a variety of reasons:

  • Genetics: Dry skin is a major manifestation of several skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis (itch) which has a genetic component.
  • Aging: In aging skin, a marked decline in lipid and water content ultimately impairs skin barrier function. A decline in filaggrin, a protein that produces NMFs, is also observed as we age, leading to diminished NMF levels
  • Low humidity: Low humidity causes less amino acids and filaggrin to be produced in the stratum corneum, as they require optimal humidity to function well. As a result, NMF levels are lower.
  • For example cold dry weather often causes ‘winter itch’ where skin is rough, red and irritated. Winter xerosis is aggravated by the presence of hot, dry air from modern central heating, causing impaired desquamation and scaling. You may also experience dry skin in hot weather if most of your time is spend in air-conditioned surroundings.
  • Sun exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can also affect normal epidermal proliferation by compromising the skin barrier’s function and resulting in greater water loss to the environment.
  • Frequent bathing: Such habits, especially with hot water, can further irritate the skin and damage the skin barrier function. Hot water should be avoided, and a shorter bath duration is recommended.
  • Other environmental factors: Chemical agents such as soaps, lotions, perfumes or detergents can also contribute to xerosis.

How to replace skin’s water content

We often see buzz about the importance of hydrating our skin, but how exactly do we ensure our skin is hydrated enough?

Currently, the best approach to treating dry skin is to restore normal abnormal epidermal differentiation by using ingredients that can easily penetrate the skin and prompt it to produce healthy levels of lipids again. Effective ingredients are lipids, humectants and antipruritic agents:

Other types of lipids that are not found naturally in our body can also be beneficial by serving as an occlusive layer, such as petrolatum. They prevent water loss to the surroundings by trapping it. A common example of petrolatum is Vaseline.

Humectants, such as glycerol, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and urea, attract and retain water in the skin. Glycerol or urea can improve skin elasticity and barrier function, and compensate for the lower levels of NMF in dry skin. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant capable of holding up to 1000 times their own weight in water, locking in moisture for the skin.

Antipruritic agents block histamine release to interfere with the itch sensation and break the itch-scratch cycle.

An ideal ingredient should prompt the skin to restore epidermal differentiation, reduce excessive water loss and itching. Multi-CERAM Moisturizer is dermatologist-formulated to treat eczema and dry skin with pharmaceutical grade ingredients. An ultra-intensive formulation, this moisturizer relies on ceramides, plant seed oils, sodium hyaluronate and glycerin to repair the skin barrier and restore skin moisture.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

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Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

Dermatologist Best Guide to Choosing A Body Moisturizer

January 26, 2018
Dermatologist Tested Moisturizer

With Singapore’s humid weather, most of us fall back on body lotions and moisturizers to keep our skin smooth and hydrated all year round. Yet, faced with a multitude of choices for body moisturisers, we may never know where to begin – here are some quick tips to help guide the choice of body moisturisers.

Read the product’s ingredient list

This is no easy feat, but it pays to know what is in your product. You need not know all the ingredients in detail, a simple trick would be to scrutinise the order in which the ingredients are presented. Right at the top would be the ingredient with the highest percentage, and the concentration of each ingredient decreases with a descending order of mention in the ingredient list.

The first five ingredients or so usually make the bulk of your product. Given that, it does not necessarily translate that an ingredient has to be in greatest concentration for the most impact. Certain ingredients work well at low concentrations.

One tip would be to watch out for creams or lotions that have the highest concentration of water or plain silicones. While these constituents may give the instant feel of moisture, they quickly disappears and do not repair our skin barrier.

How do moisturizers work?

The most essential feature is to increase the water content of the stratum corneum. The ‘valleys’ between skin contour ridges smoothen with hydration, allowing the skin to be more soft and supple.

Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: ceramides

Ceramides are an essential lipid component of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of our skin that is largely recognized as the skin barrier. Preventing unwanted materials from entering, it can be seen as our skin’s first line of defense. Ceramides contribute to the permeability of the skin barrier by mediating with cell signaling and with processes such as cell growth, differentiation, proliferation and cell death as a lipid messenger.

A deficiency of ceramides in our skin causes a decrease in water-holding capacity and barrier function. Conversely, with a topical application of phytoceramides, barrier abnormalities are improved and impaired skin barrier function can also be repaired. Thus, if you are looking for a good body lotion or moisturizer, phytoceramides definitely should be on your ingredient check list.

Phytoceramides: What are they?

Phytoceramides are derived from plant-oil and it mimics the lipid component of our skin barrier. With an equivalent function of restoring the skin integrity, we can rely on moisturizers with phytoceramides to repair our skin barrier as do synthetic ceramides do.

Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: glycerin

Glycerin is a natural humectant found in our skin and contributes to normal hydration levels of our skin. Topical glycerin helps to correct the hydration abnormality in our skin, causing glyercol to be included in topical dermatological preparations.

Humectants are hydrophilic compounds that hydrate the stratum corneum when they form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. Glycerin is a typical, yet effective water-binding agent. Humectants draw water to our skin from two difference sources: from a humid environment or from deeper layers of our skin. By absorbing water from these sources, it locks in the moisture in our skin.

According to Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, she said: “Glycerin may accomplish more complex mechanism beyond water absorption. It may interact with the skin lipid structure and alter their water-binding properties. This effect causes an expansion of skin cells on the outermost skin layer, and between those cells, leading to a visible full thickness of the skin layer. With an improvement of water-holding abilities, it results in more effective moisturization of the skin.”

Repeated applications of lotions with high glycerin content have been found to improve skin hydration.

Ingredient you want in your moisturizer: squalane

Found in certain fish oils such as shark liver oil, squalene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon. As squalene is unstable and oxidizes easily, squalane has gained more attraction in the area of cosmetics. As a saturated derivative of squalene, squalane’s inert properties and low toxicity have paved its way into the cosmeceutical industry, favoured over its unsaturated analog, squalene. Although squalane is produced naturally by the body, we experience a slower production of this hydrocarbon when we hit thirty.

Squalane has high emollient properties, being absorbed easily by the skin without leaving an oily residue. An emollient helps keep our skin hydrated and supple by reducing water loss from the epidermis. Squalane increases skin hydration due to skin surface occlusions. Occlusives provide a layer of oil on the skin surface to reduce water loss from the stratum corneum.

These properties accentuate the moisturizing effect of squalane and coupled also with its stable nature, have contributed to a continual rise in demand for squalane in cosmeceutical approaches.

To round things up, make a mental note to check the ingredient list before you purchase your moisturiser. A good moisturiser would contain at least one of these ingredients: squalane, glycerin or ceramides. Even better, the Multi-CERAM moisturizer contains all 3 ingredients and more. This makes the Multi-CERAM a popular choice with our dry skin and eczema patients. With these points in mind, a good moisturiser can be easily differentiated from the plethora of options out there.

© 2017 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.