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Skin Barrier: Definition and Function

Recently, the term skin barrier appeared and is often embedded in several skincare products, especially moisturizers. Actually, what is a skin barrier? In short, skin barrier means skin protection. Then, what is the function of skin barrier?

Through this article, we will inform you everything about skin barrier below.

Skin Barrier Definition

Before getting to know the skin barrier, we need to know the anatomy of the skin first. Inside the human skin there are several layers, namely the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin; the dermis, the middle layer of the skin made up of collagen and elastin; and the hypodermis, which forms a barrier between the skin and muscles.

The outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, contains at least three types of cells:

  • Keratinocytes: These cells form our "skin". These cells are usually referred to as bricks, a barrier composed of natural oils, ceramides, and cholesterol, which act as the glue that holds them all together.

  • Melanocytes: Melanin-producing cells, which function to absorb ultraviolet radiation and protect the underlying structures from UV damage. Melanin also gives the skin its natural skin tone.

  • Langerhan cell: Serves to help the skin increase the immune response against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

In short, skin barrier is the outermost layer (stratum corneum) which acts as the outermost barrier of the skin. This skin barrier is composed of hard skin cells (corneocytes) bound together with lipids.

Skin Barrier Function

Since the skin is the largest human organ, it is very important for us to maintain and care for skin health so that it functions optimally and avoids various skin problems.

Broadly speaking, the skin barrier has two roles; the first is to keep good things in and keep bad things out. For example, the skin barrier is able to protect the internal body from physical toxins (such as pollution and harmful chemicals) and ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure. The second is to help the body retain natural moisture by preventing transepidermal water loss. The expert explained that if the outermost layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) does not contain enough water, the skin will lose elasticity, drier, rough, and scaly. Skin that is less hydrated is also unable to maintain the skin barrier which makes the skin more susceptible to external or environmental damage. Moreover, one of the vital functions of another skin barrier is to form a barrier that is effective in keeping the water in our bodies from escaping and evaporating, which risks dehydration.

Signs of damaged skin barrier

Several problems will arise and be felt if our skin barrier is damaged, including:

  • Itchy skin

  • The skin is dry and rough to scaly

  • Tends to be sensitive and inflamed

  • Susceptible to infection with bacteria or fungi

  • Dehydrated, dull skin

  • Hyperpigmentation

  • Slow wound healing

Even so, it is not easy to decide whether a problem is the result of damage to the protective skin. It's best to get a diagnosis from an expert such as a dermatologist to find out the exact cause and treatment.

What causes the breakdown of the skin barrier?

In general, there are several factors or habits that can damage the skin barrier, namely:

  • Smoke

  • Lack of sleep

  • Stress

  • A nutritionally deficient diet

  • Pollution

  • UV radiation

  • Using a cleanser that strips the skin of its natural oils

  • The use of physical exfoliants is too rough and harsh

  • Genetic factors that can make individuals susceptible to skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis

After seeing the lists, there are a number of things that we may often do that encourage damage to the skin barrier unconsciously, such as an unhealthy lifestyle and not paying attention to the use of skincare routines.

Well, does this article answer your questions about skin barriers? After being explained, we can see that the skin barrier needs to be maintained and treated for its health. In fact, the key factor of healthy, glowing, and also soft skin is a well-maintained skin barrier.


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