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Understanding and Fighting Winter Itch

By: Ahmed Abdullah, MD
Posted: October 28, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
skin care client with itchy skin

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Occlusives. These preserve moisture levels in the skin by slowing the rate of TEWL. Ingredients in this category include petrolatum, oils and silicones.

Humectants. These work just like the skin’s NMFs; that is, they attract water from the dermis and hold it in the stratum corneum. Ingredients in this category include glycerin, urea, propylene glycol and sorbitol.

Emollients. These act as lubricants and increase the skin’s flexibility and smoothness. They also help to give moisturizers and other skin care products their silky texture. Ingredients in this category include lanolin, isopropyl palmitate and jojoba oil.

Beyond these basic components of moisturizers, research has shown that formulations which incorporate ceramides and aloe vera are highly beneficial to dry skin.

Ceramides. For most individuals, ceramides are one of the most prevalent lipids found in the stratum corneum. In the skin of those who suffer from eczema, however, lowered levels of this key lipid are found. This research has demonstrated the key role ceramides play in preventing skin dryness.