Moisturising twice a day could prevent chronic diseases

A new study has found that regularly moisturising the skin could prevent the onset of age-related chronic diseases. 

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) set out to understand the role of skin in age-related chronic disease, given that as the skin ages, its permeability increases, making it harder to keep water in and pathogens out. 

Different research has recently shown that the body’s response to a reduction in skin moisture – the forming of small cracks in the skin that signal the release of cytokines into the blood supply – can lead to systematic inflammation and disease. 

While cytokines effectively help to repair cracks in younger skin, in older skin the body continually releases the inflammatory messengers because the skin is harder to heal. Once in the blood cytokines can travel around the body and cause inflammation. 

Speaking to Medical News Today, Dr Theodora Mauro, the lead author of the paper, said: "Until recently, the scientific community didn't believe that skin could contribute to systemic inflammation and disease. But in the last five years, studies of psoriasis and dermatitis have shown that skin inflammation from these diseases likely increases the risk of heart disease."

Pilot study

The researchers aimed to investigate whether decreasing inflammation by treating skin dysfunction (keeping the skin moisturised) could reverse the risk of developing these diseases. 

In the study, published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 33 participants aged 58–95 had their cytokine levels measured at the start of the study and then after 30 days. During this time the participants applied moisturiser to their bodies twice a day. 

The cream, formulated by the scientists, included three types of lipids: cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides.

At the end of the study the participants’ cytokine levels had been reduced in the blood and were also lower than other adults in the same age bracket who acted as a control group and who had not used the cream.

“In this pilot study, we show that topical applications of a physiologic lipid-containing emollient, known to improve epidermal function in humans, normalised circulating levels of key pro-inflammatory cytokines, closely associated with the development of chronic diseases in otherwise normal aged humans,” said the authors. 

However, the researchers acknowledged that owing to the small sample, more research will need to be undertaken before reliable conclusions can be reached. 

CBD oil skincare products are also billed as containing fatty acids, effective at replenishing the skin's barrier lipid.