• irritant contact dermatitis;
  • occlusive dressings;
  • skin barrier function;
  • sodium lauryl sulfate;
  • tape stripping;
  • TEWL;
  • bioengineering methods

It has been reported that occlusive treatment of irritated skin results in a reduction of barrier repair activities in hairless mice. In contrast, the clinically observed benefit of occlusion in the treatment of hand eczema and other chronic skin diseases with a perturbed barrier function is well–known. While the beneficial effect of occlusion has been proven for the treatment on psoriasis there are no controlled clinical studies of the effect of occlusion on irritated human skin. We have therefore evaluated the effect of various occlusive treatments on repair of the human skin permeability barrier under controlled experimental conditions. Barrier perturbation was induced either by application of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or by repeated tape stripping. This was followed by treatment with different occlusive and semipermeable dressings, partly alter pre-treatment with petrolatum. Repair of water barrier function was evaluated by daily measurements of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) for 1 week. SLS irritation and tape stripping led to a 6-fold increase in TEWL as a sign of severe water barrier perturbation, followed by a stepwise decrease over the following days. Occlusion did not significantly delay barrier repair as measured by TEWL. Only in tape-stripped skin did TEWL stay at high levels during treatment with self-adhesive dressings. This may be explained by damage of newly formed stratum corneum caused by changing of these membranes. Our results indicate that, in contrast to earlier observations in hairless mouse skin, permeability barrier repair activities are not significantly delayed by occlusive treatment in human skin.