Understanding the role of the skin barrier is key to maintaining healthy skin or managing skin disorders. It is famous for its role as a protector against the external environment and foreign substances or pathogens – it’s our body’s first line of defense. Yet, the skin barrier plays a more diverse role than this. It’s a one man show with several lead characters.
In addition to the antimicrobial and immune response barrier (defense), it maintains the water content and balance (permeability barrier) of the body and reduces the effects of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (photoprotection barrier). The skin barrier also mitigates the effects of oxidative stress – an imbalance between oxidative species and antioxidant defences.
These functions work collectively to maintain healthy skin.