Indian Journal of Dermatology
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Table of Contents 
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 207-208
Protective effects of moisturizers on skin barrier during regular hand washing with soap bars

1 Center for Research and Training in Skin Diseases and Leprosy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Traditional Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Date of Web Publication16-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Saman Ahmad Nasrollahi
Center for Research and Training in Skin Diseases and Leprosy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijd.IJD_687_19

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How to cite this article:
Samadi A, Khosrowpour Z, Nasrollahi SA, Ayatollahi A, Firooz A. Protective effects of moisturizers on skin barrier during regular hand washing with soap bars. Indian J Dermatol 2021;66:207-8

How to cite this URL:
Samadi A, Khosrowpour Z, Nasrollahi SA, Ayatollahi A, Firooz A. Protective effects of moisturizers on skin barrier during regular hand washing with soap bars. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 17];66:207-8. Available from:


Repetitive use of soaps damages the epidermal barrier, and high risk groups are advised to use moisturizers after hand washing; however, there is no enough evidence to clarify whether normal people with healthy skin will benefit from using moisturizers during daily handwashing. The aim of the present study was to assess the protective effect of moisturizers after regular hand washing on skin barrier function using skin biophysical parameters as the signs of irritation and barrier damage.

It was a randomized controlled clinical study. Sixty participants with dry skin aged 30.6 + 10.21 washed both forearms four times a day for 7 days using soap bar. In each subject, right or left forearm was randomly allocated as the test side for applying a moisturizer after washing with soap and the other side as only soap wash control site. Test moisturizer contained aqua, paraffinum liquidum, glycerin, cyclomethicone, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, triglyceride, peg-8 beeswax, cholesterol/lanostrol, and tromethamine.

Biophysical properties of the skin including trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), erythema, friction, and skin pH were measured on both sites according to time schedule showed in [Figure 1]. The differences between each parameter change were analyzed for significance using the paired sample t-test.
Figure 1: Schedule of measurements of skin biophysical parameters before and after hand washing

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The increase in TEWL and skin pH immediately after washing with a soap was considerably reduced with the application of moisturizer [Figure 2]a and [Figure 2]b. Reduction in TEWL is because of occlusive agents presented in the moisturizer (paraffinum liquidum, cyclomethicone, and beeswax), which form an inactive layer on the skin surface, and physically block water evaporation from the skin.[1]
Figure 2: Comparing the change in skin biophysical parameters between two sides with only soap wash and soap with moisturizer application in T1 to T5 assessment times; (a): TEWL; (b): skin pH; (c): skin Friction; and (d): skin erythema index (* P ≤ 0.05)

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Significant improvement occurred in skin friction and erythema index in side with moisturizer application compared to control (P-value = 0.01) [Figure 2]c and [Figure 2]d. Skin friction as the resistance against the movement of objects positively correlates with stratum corneum hydration.[2] Hydration solubilizes proteins and their adhesive properties increase skin friction. Hydration also softens the stratum corneum and increases the contact area between probe and skin, resulting in a higher skin friction coefficient.[3]

Moreover, the test moisturizer contains emollient substances (fatty acids and fatty alcohols) and humectant agent (glycerin), which reduce the skin pH and recover the skin buffering capacity. Lower skin pH improves barrier function via increasing lipid production and reduced the damage to exogenous stress.[4]

The most serious barrier damage showed to occur right after hand washing with soap, when the skin erythema, pH, and TEWL reach the maximum level of increase. This immediate damage could also be due to additional effect of water evaporation during washing.[5] In the following hours, skin regenerative mechanisms started to compensate the external damage and repaired the barrier. Moreover the best protective effects of the moisturizer in current study was right after hand washing in period of acute barrier damage, before the skin gets enough time for self-healing.

Consequently, application of a moisturizer immediately after regular hand washing is capable of maintaining the skin barrier function in the skin, mainly during the acute barrier damage phase.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T. The role of moisturizers in addressing various kinds of dermatitis: A review. Clin Med Res 2017;15:75-87.  Back to cited text no. 1
Gerhardt LC, Strässle V, Lenz A, Spencer ND, Derler S. Influence of epidermal hydration on the friction of human skin against textiles. J R Soc Interface 2008;5:1317-28.  Back to cited text no. 2
Zhu YH, Song SP, Luo W, Elias PM, Man MQ. Characterization of skin friction coefficient, and relationship to stratum corneum hydration in a normal Chinese population. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2011;24:81-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kilic A, Masur C, Reich H, Knie U, Dähnhardt D, Dähnhardt-Pfeiffer S, et al. Skin acidification with a water-in-oil emulsion (pH 4) restores disrupted epidermal barrier and improves structure of lipid lamellae in the elderly. J Dermatol 2019;46:457-65.  Back to cited text no. 4
Khosrowpour Z, Ahmad Nasrollahi S, Ayatollahi A, Samadi A, Firooz A. Effects of four soaps on skin trans-epidermal water loss and erythema index. J Cosmet Dermatol 2019;18:857-61.  Back to cited text no. 5


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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