Ceramides are small fat molecules which help the skin retain elasticity and smoothness. Ceramide products help the skin retain moisture and elasticity by reinforcing the skin’s barrier function.
Do you have a chronic problem with dry skin, or have a condition like eczema? If that’s the case, the chances are good that you have a barrier function defect that causes your skin to be constantly dry in certain areas.
One of the critical functions of the skin is the Barrier function. The primary purpose is to act as a physical wall that shuts out unwanted antigens like a virus, bacteria, fungus, and any number of harmful substances from entering the body. The other important role of the barrier function is to regulate the skin’s moisture levels. In those with eczema, for example, this function is defective, resulting in chronic dryness and irritated skin.
Ceramides are one of the critical components of the skin’s waterproofing system. The surface of the skin is made of corneocytes which are dead skin cells that are sandwiched by fat layers composed of cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides. Ceramides play an essential role in regulating the composition and stability of the skin’s surface, enhancing its moisture-retaining abilities and strengthening the barrier function. It is thought that ceramides may be deficient in some people who have a weakened barrier function, causing chronic irritation and dryness. For these individuals, lab-created ceramides may help boost the skin’s natural ability to protect itself from loss of moisture. Cetaphil’s RestoraDERM is one example of a product that uses ceramide technologies to aid moisturizing.
Ceramides are a relatively new but rewarding finding in dermatology and one that has significant consequences for those with eczema, or those with chronic dry skin.