If the skin feels dry, tight, irritated and has a scaly appearance, these are signs of a disturbed skin barrier. Which brings us to our subject: What options are available to keep this barrier intact?
Structurally, the barrier consists largely of the skin‘s own fats (lipids) and bound moisture. If the skin lacks lipids, moisture rapidly escapes. The skin dries out. Consequently, lipid-rich care is important! Skin lipids include ceramides, linoleic acid, phospholipids, squalene as well as phytosterols. They can be supplied to the skin via various care oils and base ingredients. Some good examples include avocado oil, jojoba oil, sea buckthorn oil, almond oil, sesame oil or shea butter (for example, in GEHWOL med Lipidro Cream, GEHWOL med Sensitive, GEHWOL FUSSKRAFT Hydrolipid Lotion or GEHWOL FUSSKRAFT Soft Feet Butter).
Modern probiotic active ingredients are also good for the skin barrier. Just as lipids are an important part of the mechanical barrier, the microbiome provides an additional biological barrier. One can imagine it as a microbial biofilm on the skin. The microbiome is populated by billions of beneficial bacteria and fungi. They protect the organism from pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi found in the environment. Probiotic active ingredients are harvested from lactic acid bacteria, among other things (for example, in GEHWOL balance with probiotic Lactobacillus pentosus). They promote the growth of the microbiome and support the skin‘s biological barrier function.
The skin has the special ability to constantly renew itself. Vital cells are originally formed in the lowest layer, gradually altering their structure and function. In this process, they begin to move out towards the external layer. As dead callus cells bound by lipids and proteins, they eventually form the mechanical barrier on the outermost skin layer before they are shed due to pressure from the cells growing beneath them. In dry skin with excess callus, this process may be faster. Under pressure load, the callus cells growing beneath move outwards faster than the rate at which dead cells are shed. Special callus creams with a high urea content can help here (for example, GEHWOL med Callus Cream with 18 % urea). They intensively moisturize the skin. In a kind of “rinse”, the callus cells become loosened so that the skin can shed them.
Scrubs can also help. But take care – aggressive chemical scrubs are best avoided! Gentle alternatives use natural exfoliating bodies such as sugar, bamboo or mother-of-pearl powder and regenerative active ingredients such as jojoba oil, avocado oil and vitamin E (for example, GEHWOL FUSSKRAFT Soft Feet Scrub ).
The barrier is the outermost skin layer. It consists of lamellar callus cells bound together by skin lipids and proteins (A). The skin additionally forms a hydrolipid film – the acid mantle (B). It consists of sweat, fats, amino acids and cell scales. The pH value of the acid mantle varies depending on the body region. Matching the pH, the protective mantle provides an ideal microclimate for each body region in which useful bacteria and fungi (microbiome) can multiply.
Together, the mechanical and chemical-biological barriers fulfil an important protective function. They keep the skin from losing moisture, thereby preventing harmful microorganisms and environmental toxins from penetrating the skin from the outside. For this reason, the skin barrier is an important part of the immune system.