The Skin Barrier Series: Part Five: Recognising Signs of a Compromised Skin Barrier

Posted by Emily van Oosterom on

Part 5: Recognising Signs of a Compromised Skin Barrier

Recognising the signs of a compromised skin barrier is essential for taking appropriate measures to restore its health and functionality, and thus regaining that healthy, radiant glow. When the skin barrier is compromised a variety of symptoms can manifest, indicating the need for intervention and adjustment in skincare routines.

One common symptom of a damaged skin barrier is dryness. The barrier's ability to retain moisture is compromised, leading to a loss of hydration in the skin. As a result, the skin may feel tight, rough, and flaky. The lack of moisture can also contribute to a dull complexion (Darlenski et al., 2013).

Redness and sensitivity are common in individuals with a compromised skin barrier. The barrier's weakened function can lead to increased skin reactivity and a heightened response to external triggers such as environmental irritants, allergens, or skincare products. This can manifest as redness, irritation, and a sensation of stinging or burning (Dréno et al., 2016).

Flakiness and a rough texture are additional indicators of a compromised skin barrier. When the protective lipid layer is disrupted, the skin's surface can become uneven, resulting in a roughened or uneven texture. The impaired barrier also affects the shedding of dead skin cells, leading to the accumulation of dry, flaky patches (Danby et al., 2013).

Individuals with a damaged skin barrier may experience an increased tendency to develop skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. The compromised barrier allows for easier penetration of irritants and allergens, triggering inflammatory responses and exacerbating existing skin conditions (Czarnowicki et al., 2018). Persistent or worsening symptoms of eczema, such as itching, redness, and rash-like patches, may indicate a compromised skin barrier.

Addressing these symptoms promptly and adjusting skincare routines can help restore the health and functionality of the skin barrier. Gentle cleansing, moisturising with barrier-supportive products, and avoiding harsh skincare ingredients can aid in barrier repair and prevent further damage. If you are experiencing these symptoms on-going, it is essential to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional for personalised recommendations based on your specific skin concerns.

The skin barrier stands as a fundamental guardian of our skin's health, protecting us from premature ageing and maintaining optimal hydration and well-being. Understanding the anatomy, functions, and significance of the skin barrier empowers us to make informed choices in our skincare routines. By nurturing and supporting our skin barrier through gentle practices and barrier-enhancing products, we can promote skin health and ensure our skin remains resilient and radiant.

Here’s to a healthy skin barrier and glowing skin!


Czarnowicki, T., Malajian, D., Khattri, S., & Guttman-Yassky, E. (2018). New concepts in the pathogenesis and treatment of atopic dermatitis. Current Opinion in Immunology, 54, 76-81.

Danby, S. G., Al Enezi, T., Sultan, A., Lavender, T., Chittock, J., Brown, K., ... & Cork, M. J. (2013). Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatric Dermatology, 30(1), 42-50.

Darlenski, R., Kazandjieva, J., Tsankov, N., & Fluhr, J. W. (2013). Moisturizers for Acne: What are their constituents? Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2(2), 98-107.

Dréno, B., Alexis, A. F., Chuberre, B., & Viala, D. (2016). Moisturizing and emollient properties of cosmetic products. In Draelos ZD (Ed.), Cosmeceuticals. Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology Series (3rd ed., pp. 33-41). Elsevier.

Loden, M. (2003). Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 4(11), 771-788.

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