Getting Under Your Skin: The Skin Barrier’s Role in Eczema


By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – For millions of people who suffer from chronic eczema, life can become a complicated existence in which patches of dry skin become red and inflamed, and the causes are unknown. According to The New York Times, researchers have challenged the dogma that chronic eczema is mainly an allergic disease that leads to skin dryness and rashes; instead a growing number of experts believe that a structural defect of the skin is the primary culprit.

A major breakthrough came in 2006, when Irwin McLean, a geneticist at the University of Dundee in Scotland, and Dr. Alan Irvine, a pediatric dermatologist at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, Ireland, reported that chronic eczema was rampant among families carrying a defective gene for filaggrin, a skin protein that serves as a natural moisturizer. Without it, the usually impervious barrier formed by the skin is compromised by cracking.

The flawed gene fails to produce filaggrin, which normally pulls together protein filaments and flattens out dead cells to form the skin’s outermost layer. The molecule also holds water in, moisturizing the barrier. About one-third to half of all children and adults with moderate to severe chronic eczema have a nonfunctioning filaggrin gene, Dr. Irvine told the Times.

While a genetic skin barrier defect is important, he said, the immune and environmental factors also play key contributing roles in this complex disease. Other research, the Timesnotes, has revealed that inflammation itself can reduce filaggrin levels in the skin. It may be possible to create eczema drugs enhancing filaggrin production. For now, says the Times, it is important to protect the dry, damaged skin barrier by hydrating it and keeping it intact. That means that along with using anti-inflammatory medications, it is crucial for eczema patients to follow the basic advice on moisturizing to prevent flare-ups.

Theraplex offers a complete line of over-the-counter skin care products for eczema that combine two technical advances: the first, developed by Swiss research scientist Dr. H. R. Suess, is an enriched special petrolatum fraction (ESPF) that retains the superior moisturization and protective properties of petrolatum without its greasiness and tackiness. The second, developed by Suess in collaboration with U.S. scientist Dr. Eugene Gans, combines ESPF with a novel hydrosilicone delivery system. Clinical studies have shown that the Theraplex line of products prevent the vicious cycle of persistent dry skin by delivering moisture deep into the cracks and fissures of the dry skin, creating a protective barrier to lock in the moisture and prevent its loss for hours.

Theraplex’s eczema products have established a loyal following among dermatologists across the country, who have found much to appreciate in its unique and effective approach to the challenge of treating the condition among their patients. One dermatologist quoted on the Theraplex website calls the line of products his first choice for patients with eczema.

A focus on the skin barrier may turn out to be a major key in effective eczema treatment. To review the complete line of Theraplex eczema products, visit

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