Background The use of emollients is recommended for patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) to maintain improved condition.
Objectives To ascertain objectively the effectiveness of a moisturizing cream for patients with AD during different seasons.
Methods We conducted clinical evaluations, noninvasive biophysical measurements and biochemical analyses of the stratum corneum (SC) components of the volar forearm skin of 23 patients with AD after a moisturizer was applied twice daily for 4 weeks. The moisturizer was formulated according to the consensus of cosmetic scientists belonging to major Japanese cosmetic companies. The nontreated forearm served as a control.
Results After using the moisturizer treatment, the hydration of the SC significantly increased together with a decrease in the desquamation measurements and an improvement in the regularity of skin surface corneocytes. An improvement was observed in the SC barrier function in winter, but was achieved only after 4 weeks in late spring during which time there even occurred exacerbation of skin conditions in three patients. With use of the moisturizer treatment, we found no change in the SC content of free amino acids or ceramides, the ratio of interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist to IL-1α, the ratio of immature to mature cornified envelopes, the size of the corneocytes or the emergence of parakeratotic cells in the skin surface corneocytes.
Conclusion Treatment with an adequate moisturizer is beneficial for the dry skin of patients with AD during the dry, cold season but it does not influence the impaired SC barrier function as effectively in the less arid season.