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Is your skin barrier damaged? Know the signs and how to treat it

The skin barrier makes sure to protect the body from pollutants, UV radiation and other factors. So naturally, it is important. But the skin barrier can get damaged if you don't take care.
Woman with damaged skin
Protect your skin barrier against damage. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 2 Dec 2023, 12:00 pm IST
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We know the importance of sunscreen and other skin care products. But there are times when we skip them because we don’t have the time to follow an elaborate ritual or we are just too lazy. Then there is make-up, which we might forget to remove before going off to sleep. Basically, our skin takes a hit when we don’t pay attention to it. Soon, we start experiencing issues with skin. That’s probably because the skin barrier is damaged. Read on to find out the purpose of skin barrier and what to do to repair it if it gets damaged.

The skin barrier, often referred to as the “epidermal barrier,” is the outermost layer of our skin. It consists of specialised cells, lipids and proteins that join forces to protect the body from external elements such as pollutants, pathogens, and UV radiation, explains Dr Sameer Apte, Consultant – Dermatology, SRV Hospitals – Dombivli, Maharashtra. The primary purpose of the skin barrier is to safeguard the body against external threats. It acts as a shield, preventing harmful microorganisms and allergens from entering the body. Also, the skin barrier plays a vital role in maintaining proper hydration, regulating temperature and preventing excessive water loss.

Woman with glowing skin
You won’t have glowing skin if your skin barrier is damaged. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Factors that may damage skin barrier

Various factors, including external and internal, can compromise the integrity of the skin barrier.

Some of them are –

• Excessive sun exposure
• Too dry or sticky environment
• Frequent use of harsh skincare products
• Poor nutrition
Over-washing and exfoliating a lot
• Not using a moisturiser

The expert says underlying skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can also weaken the skin barrier.

Signs of damaged skin barrier

When the skin barrier is compromised, it may manifest as –

• Redness
• Dryness
• Itchiness
• Sensitivity

You might notice increased skin roughness as well. In severe cases, the skin can become inflamed, and conditions like eczema may worsen. There might be a stinging sensation, especially when you use skin care products.

Ways to repair damaged skin barrier

Repairing damaged skin barrier is all about paying attention to your skin. Here’s what to do –

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1. Gentle cleansing

When you experience skin irritation, you don’t want it to come in contact with any product. Instead of using harsh cleansers loaded with chemicals, use mild, fragrance-free cleansers to avoid further irritation.

2. Moisturise

One of the ways to keep the skin barrier healthy is to apply a rich moisturiser to lock in moisture and promote healing, suggests Dr Apte. Use products that have fatty acids, ceramides and lipids, which make up a big chunk of the skin barrier.

3. Don’t ignore pH

Potential of hydrogen of pH indicates how acidic your skin is. If your skin’s pH is higher or lower than 5.5, it can damage your skin barrier. So, look for skin care products that list their pH.

4. Avoid harsh products

Steer clear of skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrances or strong acids that can lead to dryness or irritation.

Woman's skin care
Moisturise well to protect your skin barrier. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

5. Protect skin from UV rays

Whether you are sitting in your room or office or stepping out to buy something, always wear a sunscreen. This skin care product is a great way to shield your skin from UV damage.

6. Healthy diet and hydration

Consume a balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and drink plenty of water to support skin repair as well as maintenance.

But don’t expect a miracle, as repairing the skin barrier takes time and consistency. If problems don’t go away with time, consult a dermatologist.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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