Our barrier of our skin will determine the successful treatment of all skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, acne and ageing. If we do not pre condition the skin to preserve the barrier function, we will put the client at risk for developing complications.
Often you will find that treating a skin condition will be easier to treat simply by improving the barrier function of the skin. We have looked at the acid mantle, epidermal lipids and natural moisturising factors as being important systems that influence the skin’s barrier function. Today we are going to look at barrier function as an important part of managing the immunology of the skin and preventing chronic inflammation which causes many skin conditions.
Firstly, let’s look at another structural component of our barrier function, the lipid bi-layer. Our lipid bi layer is formed in the stratum granulosum by lamellar bodies. Lamellar bodies are granules that are secreted by the keratinocyte. These lamellar bodies secrete lipids and enzymes that initiate the desmosomes to break down. These desmosomes need to be broken down properly for skin cells to shed effectively. The enzymes responsible for the breakdown of desmosomes, are highly sensitive to the pH of the acid mantle and need an acidic environment to operate effectively. Lamellar bodies need to be secreted into the water phase of the skin to form the lipid bi layer which acts as the brick and mortar between corneocytes.
When our lipid bi layer is damaged or does not function properly, our skin’s immune function becomes compromised. Firstly our acid mantle will protect us from and destroy harmful bacteria on the skin. The acid mantle can only protect us if it is acidic. Therefore the acidity of our acid mantle will be crucial in managing the surface bacteria we come into contact with all the time. Our barrier function also protects us from allergens and irritants. Our upper layers of our epidermis contain immune cells which will destroy harmful substances. We also have cells that will initiate an immune response which will recruit repairing cells. With certain procedures we depend on an induced injury to stimulate acute inflammation to trick the skin into thinking it’s injured. This can have beneficial effects on collagen production. If our skin’s become chronically inflamed due to poor barrier function, we put it at risk of causing injury related skin conditions we do not want such as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
This will all explain why starting your protocol in the clinic with restoration of healthy barrier function, will have the following benefits:
- It will make the client’s skin more tolerant, which will allow you to introduce stronger active ingredients to achieve better results.
- It will broaden the range of procedures that you have at your disposal to treat skin conditions.
- The client will achieve a quicker improvement in her skin
- You will safeguard the client against complications as a result of procedures done on a compromised skin.
When you decide on the homecare products your clients need to restore their barrier function, consider the following. A good cleansing routine that respects the acid mantle and natural KMC. Ingredients such as 4 % B5 which will reduce inflammation, excess sebum production and limit over poduction of the melanin. A good sunscreen with antioxidants to limit free radical formation in the skin which will worsen the skin’s ability to protect itself.
Once barrier function has been restored you will get an accurate idea of the procedures needed to treat the skin conditions they are concerned with.