Funding sources The present study was sponsored by Expanscience and performed by bioskin, Hamburg, Germany.
Infant epidermal skin physiology: adaptation after birth
Article first published online: 19 JAN 2012
© 2011 The Authors. BJD © 2011 British Association of Dermatologists
British Journal of Dermatology
Volume 166, Issue 3, pages 483–490, March 2012
How to Cite
Fluhr, J.W., Darlenski, R., Lachmann, N., Baudouin, C., Msika, P., De Belilovsky, C. and Hachem, J.-P. (2012), Infant epidermal skin physiology: adaptation after birth. British Journal of Dermatology, 166: 483–490. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10659.x
Conflicts of interest J.W.F. was an employee of bioskin, a dermatology contract research organization, at the time the study was performed. No products were evaluated; the purpose was to understand infant skin and was not of commercial interest.
- Issue published online: 22 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 19 JAN 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 3 OCT 2011 01:18PM EST
- Accepted for publication 23 September 2011
Background Functional and structural skin adaptation is a dynamic process which starts immediately after birth in humans and in mammalian skin in general. This adjustment to the extrauterine dry environment is accomplished in the first year of postnatal life of humans.
Objectives To assess the dynamic changes in vivo after birth in the molecular composition and skin physiology parameters compared with older children and adults.
Methods The molecular composition of the stratum corneum (SC) and the water profile were investigated noninvasively by in vivo Raman confocal microscopy as a function of depth. Functional parameters including transepidermal water loss (characterizing epidermal permeability barrier), capacitance (as an indirect parameter for SC hydration) and skin surface pH were assessed noninvasively. The measurements were performed in 108 subjects divided into six age groups: full-term newborns (1–15 days), babies aged 5–6 weeks, babies aged 6 ± 1 months, children aged 1–2 years, children aged 4–5 years and adults aged 20–35 years.
Results We showed that skin acidification is still under development during the first weeks of life. While the basal epidermal barrier is competent immediately after birth, the SC is less hydrated in the first 2 weeks of postnatal life. Similar continuous decreasing water content towards the surface for all age groups was observed, whereas this gradient was lower for the newborns. Dynamic changes in the amounts of the natural moisturizing factor constituents were revealed in the period of infancy.
Conclusions We demonstrated the relation of formation of an acidic pH as well as underlying mechanisms in the induction of a fully hydrated SC over the first weeks of human life as a dynamic functional adaptation.