If you are struggling with dehydrated or dry skin, one of the causes may be trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). You're losing water and moisture from your skin. TEWL can lead to a variety of dry skin conditions — including severe dehydration — but there are ways that you can keep your skin hydrated or prevent dryness from occurring in the first place.
What Is Trans epidermal Water Loss?
To understand TEWL, let's revisit the layers of our skin. Our skin is made up of three primary layers, the outermost being the epidermis (aka what you look at in the mirror). The dermis is the middle layer, and the hypodermis is the innermost layer. TEWL occurs when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates through the skin barrier.
The skin barrier consists of the epidermis and, most specifically, the hard, outermost layer of the stratum corneum. The epidermis is what we typically think of as the outer layer of the skin, but it's made up of five layers. The outermost layer of the epidermis is the stratum corneum. When the stratum corneum is compromised, moisture evaporates through the ineffective skin barrier, and you can expect to see very dry, dull, or dehydrated skin. Your skin is typically clever enough to regulate water loss and retain hydration on its own, but sometimes certain factors damage your skin barrier’s function, exacerbating dryness. If you’re wondering whether TEWL has compromised your skin barrier, it helps to know what to look out for. The symptoms of TEWL include flaking, itchiness, skin tightness and redness.
What Factors Trigger Trans epidermal Water Loss?
TEWL can be triggered by:
- Skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, or rosacea
- Dry weather or excessive time with dry air indoors (i.e., from air conditioners and central heating)
- Over-washing, over-exfoliating, and scrubbing with harsh soaps
- Allergies, diabetes, or kidney disease
- Ageing skin as your sebum production decreases
- Sunburn or wounds
How To Stop Trans epidermal Water Loss?
The most important part of preventing TEWL is ensuring you have a healthy skin barrier.
A healthy, functioning skin barrier blocks environmental irritants out, while keeping all the good stuff, like natural oils and moisture, in. A compromised skin barrier does a poor job of maintaining your skin’s health due to ineffective water retention, which can lead to skin conditions like dermatitis or dryness. To keep your skin's ecosystem healthy, and prevent TEWL, look at the following lifestyle and skin care tips.
1. Use Moisturising Products
Moisturising is an important strategy for maintaining skin health as well as treating an impaired skin barrier function. Preventing TEWL will keep your skin's barrier healthy and hydrated. Richer more emollient creams have an occlusive effect will lock in moisture, preventing water loss while you sleep. Vaseline can be a good option if you are not sensitive to it.
TEWL can be further reduced by using skin care products that contain humectants, occlusives and emollients. These are important ingredients found in moisturisers. Humectants (like glycerine and hyaluronic acid) draw water from the environment into the skin. But this isn’t enough — you need something to stop this moisture from evaporating.
2. Use A Humidifier for A Compromised Skin Barrier
If you live in a dry climate, or are susceptible to dry winter weather, try using a humidifier in your home to see if it gives your skin time to heal. Studies have shown that humidifiers generating nano-sized water particles appear to positively affect skin hydration and skin barrier function.
3. Skin Hydration Techniques for Bathing
Bathe for approximately 10 minutes in warm water, you could add Silcock's base to the running water. and then follow up with an occlusive moisturiser to lock in the moisture.
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment of Natural Colloidal Oatmeal helps soothe and relieve dry, itchy, irritated skin. This dermatologist-recommended skin treatment temporarily protects skin and relieves itchiness while also gently cleansing and moisturising skin, leaving it soft, smooth and healthier-looking
ScienceDirect recommends applying a wet face cloth or towel to the area, while your hands or feet (i.e., if you’re suffering from dermatitis) can be treated by soaking the limb in a basin.
4. Avoid Harsh Cleansers and Over-Exfoliating
Over-washing, over-exfoliating, chemical skincare, and some acne treatments can all lead to a damaged skin barrier and trigger skin conditions. Avoid physical exfoliators It’s also always best to consult a dermatologist if you are unsure of what exactly is triggering your symptoms. As a rule, avoid over-cleansing, or using foaming cleansers which might strip your skin of oils. It’s safer to opt for a gentle milk cleanser. Also, choose your active ingredients with care. Ingredients such as retinol and alpha hydroxy acids may worsen the effects of TEWL.
Products that are suited to this skin type.
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