At a molecular level, changes in skin lipids, filaggrin and Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) can play an important role in the generation of dry skin.
Dry skin management typically involves application of emollients and optimized lipid mixtures.
It has been previously recommended that an ideal emollient contains five key components: humectants, non-physiological lipids (e.g. mineral, vegetable oil), physiological lipids (e.g. ceramides, free fatty acids), antipruritics/soothing agents, and agents that support epidermal differentiation.(3),(4),(5)
Urea is an organic compound that has been used clinically for dermatological diseases for more than a century. Urea is a potent emollient and keratolytic agent, making urea an effective monotherapy for conditions associated with dry and scaly skin.(6)
Urea plays a significant role in moisture regulation and is a key constituent of NMF the chemical protective coat produced by the epidermis and responsible for keeping the adequate hydration of stratum corneum- the outermost part of the epidermis.
The NMF consists primarily of amino acids (~40%) and their derivatives, including pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA, ~12%), lactate (~12%), urea (~7%), and inorganic salts (~18%).(7)
To help heal dry skin dermatologists recommend to:
- > Apply moisturisers immediately after washing
- > Use only gentle, unscented skin care products with no alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or acids
- > Avoid irritating clothes and hypoallergenic laundry detergents
(1) The structure and function of the stratum corneum. Menon GK1, Cleary GW, Lane ME.
(2) The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin Miranda A. Farage
(3) Proksch E, Lachapelle JM. The management of dry skin with topical emollients: recent perspectives. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 2005; 3(10):768-74
(4) Emollient therapy for dry and inflammatory skin conditions. Green, L. (2011). Nursing Standard, 26(1),39–46. https://doi.org/10.7748/ns2011.09.26.1.39.c8692
(5) Filaggrin mutations increase the risk for persistent dry skin and eczema independent of sensitization. Böhme, M., Söderhäll, C., Kull, I., Bergström, A., van Hage, M., & Wahlgren, C.-F. (2012). Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 129(4), 1153–1155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2011.11.032
(6) Urea: a comprehensive review of the clinical literature. Pan M1, Heinecke G, Bernardo S, Tsui C, Levitt J.
(7) Treatment of Xerosis with a Topical Formulation Containing Glyceryl Glucoside, Natural Moisturizing Factors, and Ceramide Teresa M. Weber, PhD,a Martina Kausch, Dipl Eng,b Frank Rippke, MD,b Andrea M. Schoelermann, MD,b and Alexander W. Filbry, PhDb