How to Treat Damaged Skin Barrier?

plant oils help treat damaged skin barrier

Beauty drugstores are packed with products that aim to protect and rejuvenate your skin. Some of them exfoliate, some moisturize, and others plump. These products have one thing in common they all act on your body’s outermost layer, called the skin barrier.

What’s your skin barrier and what is its purpose?

The skin is made up of layers, each of which performs important functions in protecting your body.

The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, is often described as a brick wall. It consists of tough skin cells called corneocytes that are bound together by glue-like lipids. This is your skin barrier.

Inside the skin cells, you’ll find keratin and natural moisturizers. The lipid layer consists of cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.

This thin brick wall is precisely keeping you alive. Without it, all sorts of harmful environmental toxins and pathogens could penetrate your skin and cause damage to your body.

Additionally, without your skin barrier, the water inside your body would evaporate, leaving you completely dehydrated.

Your skin barrier is vital for good health and needs to be guarded in order to function properly.

What can damage the skin barrier?

Every day, your skin faces a blast of threats, many of which come from outside your body and a few come from within.

Some of the conditions that can affect your skin barrier are:

  • a too humid or too dry environment
  • allergens, irritants, and pollutants
  • too much sun exposure
  • alkaline detergents and soaps
  • exposure to harsh chemicals
  • over-exfoliation or over-washing
  • steroids
  • psychological distress
  • genetic factors 

Role of the acid mantle

Your skin barrier is a bit acidic. This acidity helps to create a kind of buffer against the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi that could harm your skin and lead to infections and other skin conditions.

It’s especially important to protect the acidity around wounds as the skin’s acidity is necessary for many of the biological interactions in the healing process.

Sometimes, a health condition such as diabetes can change the acidity of your skin, weakening this process. For people with these conditions, it is recommended to use slightly more acidic skincare products.

How to know about the damage to the skin barrier?

When your skin barrier isn’t working properly, you may be more vulnerable to developing the following skin symptoms and conditions:

  • dry, scaly skin
  • itchiness
  • rough or discoloured patches
  • acne
  • sensitive or inflamed areas
  • bacterial, viral, or fungal skin infections

How to protect and restore the skin barrier?

What can you do to keep both the skin barrier and acid mantle healthy and functional? Let’s look at some strategies for skin barrier repair that can help.

Simplify your skincare routine

If you’re doing a complicated daily skin regimen involving plenty of products, you may be inadvertently weakening your skin barrier. Consider talking to a skincare expert about which products are essential and most effective.

If you’re exfoliating, observe how your skin reacts to the method you use. 

Some types of scrubs may temporarily harm your skin barrier.

Pay attention to pH

Your skin’s delicate acidity lies around a pH of 5.7. But the pH of certain skin products can range from 3.7 to 8.2.

It is recommended to cleanse with a product that is close to your skin’s natural pH.

Keeping your skin’s pH level in a healthy range may help protect you from skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, and Candida albicans infections. 

Try a plant oil to stimulate your skin barrier

Many different types of oils have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, too. Some of the most effective plant oils to use on your skin are:

  • jojoba oil
  • coconut oil
  • almond oil
  • argan-oil
  • borage oil
  • rosehip oil
  • sunflower oil
  • soybean oil

There are various methods by which you can use plant oils on your skin. Either apply creams and lotions that contain one or more of these oils as an ingredient or, you can pour a small amount of the oil into the palm and then massage it gently into your skin until it’s completely absorbed.

Look for formulations that include ceramides

Ceramides are waxy fat found in especially high concentrations in the stratum corneum. They are very important for the healthy functioning of your skin barrier.

Research shows that products containing pseudo-ceramides may improve the dryness, itchiness, and scaling caused by poor functioning of the skin barrier.

Ceramide moisturizers may be very helpful if you have acne. In acne-prone skin, the barrier is often damaged, and acne treatments can leave skin dry and reddened.

But remember not all skincare ingredients work for everyone. That’s why you may want to try a few different products to determine which one works better for keeping your skin healthy and well moisturized.

Take Away

The outermost layer of your skin, known as your skin barrier, defends your body against environmental damages while simultaneously protecting your body’s water balance.

Symptoms such as dryness, itching, and inflammation can alert you to regarding this important barrier.

You can help repair your skin’s barrier by simplifying your skincare regime, using products with appropriate pH levels, and using a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid. Moisturizers with petrolatum can also help your skin barrier lock in moisture.