Short-term effects of selected barrier creams on skin barrier function
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Background: Barrier creams are applied to the surface of the skin to form a barrier that aims to prevent the penetration of irritants and allergens through the skin surface. Several inconsistencies and controversies exist in literature regarding the effect that barrier creams may have on skin barrier function. Various skin surface parameters are used to evaluate the effect that the barrier creams have on skin barrier function. These parameters include transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin hydration and skin surface pH. Total skin thickness may be assessed as a variable on its own. Differences may exist in skin surface parameters when comparing African participants with Caucasian participants. Aim: The specific aim of this research was to evaluate the short-term1 effects of selected barrier creams on skin barrier function. Note 1: The words short-term are used in this study as each barrier cream is only tested over a period of 8 hours and not tested over a long term period of months or years. Method: Forty two non-smoking participants were included and tested in this study, of which 21 were African and the rest Caucasian. TEWL, skin hydration and skin surface pH were used to evaluate the differences in the effect of two different barrier creams (Reinol Solvgard and Momar Chex) on skin barrier function. TEWL was measured by making use of a closed chamber Vapometer (Deflin Technology Ltd., Kuopio, Finland), skin hydration using a Corneometer® CM 825 and skin surface pH using a pH meter probe (Courage and Khazaka Electronic Kӧln, Germany). A micro-pipette was used to drip a standard volume of 20 μl of ultrapure water on the skin surface before the researcher placed the pH meter probe onto the skin surface. Total skin thickness was measured by making use of ultrasound (Ultrascan 22 - TBS0061B) (Courage and Khazaka Electronic Kӧln, Germany). Three consecutive measurements were taken on the mid-forearm and the palm of the experimental arm. After baseline values were measured, 5 ml of the selected barrier cream was applied to the experimental arm. The barrier cream (selected for the day) was reapplied after 2, 4 and 6 hours and measurements were taken every 2, 4, 6 and 8 hours. The total skin thickness was measured at time zero and at 8 hours. Results: TEWL: For both barrier creams, statistical significant differences (p ≤ 0.05) were found between TEWL on the palms of African participants and Caucasian participants. Skin hydration: Statistically significant differences (p ≤ 0.05) were obtained with regard to mid-forearm skin hydration when comparing Reinol Solvgard with Momar Chex (this was applicable to both racial groups). A statistically significant difference (p ≤ 0.05) was obtained with regard to mid-forearm skin hydration when comparing African participants with Caucasian participants (this was only applicable to Reinol Solvgard). Statistical significant differences (p ≤ 0.05) were obtained with regard to skin hydration palm when comparing Reinol Solvgard with Momar Chex (this was applicable to both racial groups). Statistically significant differences (p ≤ 0.05) were obtained with regards to skin hydration palm when comparing African participants with Caucasian participants (this was applicable to both barrier creams). Skin surface pH: A statistically significant difference (p ≤ 0.05) was obtained with regard to pH of the mid-forearm when comparing Reinol Solvgard with Momar Chex (this was applicable to only the African participants). A statistical significance (p ≤ 0.05) was obtained with regards to skin surface pH mid-forearm when comparing African participants with Caucasian participants (this was applicable to Momar Chex barrier cream only). A statistically significant difference (p ≤ 0.05) was obtained with regards to the pH of the palm when comparing Reinol Solvgard with Momar Chex (this was only applicable to the African racial group). Conclusion: Using skin surface parameters, it can be concluded that Momar Chex barrier cream elicited more positive effects on skin barrier function than Reinol Solvgard barrier cream. This may be ascribed to the fact that both barrier creams lowered TEWL (positive effect), Reinol Solvgard lowered skin hydration (negative effect) whereas, Momar Chex increased the skin hydration (positive effect) and both barrier creams increased skin surface pH (negative effect). Furthermore, the objectives of this study were reached as (a) short-term effects on skin surface parameters were identified between African versus Caucasian participants, (b) significances were observed between the two barrier creams (Momar Chex and Reinol Solvgard) by making use of skin surface parameters and (c) general increases and or decreases were observed in skin surface parameters over a short term period of 8 hours.
- Health Sciences 
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