Skin Facts – Lipids in Baby and Eczema Skin

This is the 6th post exploring ‘Skin Facts’ and today’s focus is on the lipids/ fats in our skin. There is distinct difference between the skin lipids of normal adult skin, baby skin and eczema skin. Let’s explore skin lipids!

Types of Skin Lipids

Skin Facts - Lipids in Baby and Eczema Skin

Skin Facts – Lipids in Baby and Eczema Skin, and its functions

There are lipids from both sebaceous and keratinocyte/ epidermis:

  • Sebaceous – from sebaceous glands and coats the skin surface, mainly triglycerides, wax esters and squalene, fatty acids and smaller amounts of cholesterol, cholesterol esters and diglycerides
  • Epidermal – found between the epidermal skin cells, mix of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol

Lipids from Sebaceous Glands – Sebum

The concentration of sebum is higher at the forehead, face, scalp, upper chest and back and lower on the hands and feet and none on the palms and soles.

Function of Sebum

  • Deliver antioxidants to the surface of the skin in the form of vitamin E
  • Antibacterial protection
  • Antimycotic protection (fungi)
  • Reduces water loss from skin surface

Unfortunately, sebum is also associated with

  • Body odor
  • Acne

Functions of Epidermal Lipids

  • Hydration of the stratum corneum
  • Antibacterial protection
    Antimycotic protection (fungi)
  • Increased protection via increasing impermeability of skin
  • Maintenance of skin moisture content

Eczema and Lipids

Atopic dermatitis is associated with reduced epidermal lipids in all three categories – reduced ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids

The lack of lipids lead to a weak ‘brick and mortar’ structure where the lipids are akin to the mortar that keep the skin cells (bricks) together. This weakened skin barrier is associated with increased transepidermal water loss and increased skin permeability

See

Lipids in Baby Skin

The subcutaneous fat in baby skin is rich in the saturated oils – palmitic and esteric acid, with the following characteristics:

  • Higher melting point temperatures – freeze more easily (such as eating ice or popsicle for hours!), thus avoid extreme temperature for babies
  • Saturated vs Higher unsaturated oleic acid and linoleic acid in adults

Infant skin contains less total lipids compared to adults

Malnutrition is linked with changes in surface lipids, where an alteration in skin lipids has been observed due to essential fatty acid deficiency

With a lower lipid skin content, it is important not to excessively wash baby skin and further remove the skin lipids.

Other posts on EczemaBlues.com on skin lipids are:

Eczema News – ‘Lipid fingerprint’ Treatment Approach : Where the Oregon State University is developing a system to identify the missing lipids in an individual skin, thus the possibility of getting moisturizer to replenish the specific deficient lipid.

References

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