The skin's barrier or the stratum corneum (SC) protects the deeper layers of the skin from damage. Therefore, it is of great importance to keep it healthy. Hydration is very important in maintaining this skin barrier and its repair mechanisms.1 In terms of skin, hydration refers to moisture or water levels of the SC. Many factors influence skin hydration. Naturally, the skin contains water, so drinking an adequate amount of water is very important for your skin and overall health. External factors such as air quality and skin products impact hydration, although it also depends on skin type.2
The underlying mechanisms of skin repair are very complex. There is a basic undertaking involving three overlapping phases. These are inflammation, tissue formation, and remodelling.3 There are also other mechanisms used for wound or burn healing. During all these processes, there are key factors that are essential for accurate repair. This included growth factors such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF).4 Hydration plays a huge role in maintaining your skin's health. If your skin becomes dehydrated due to naturally dry skin, low water intake, a specific skin condition, or harsh skincare products, you can consult a dermatologist who can recommend a plan moving forward. Dehydrated skin can be dry, flaky, itchy, dull, and uneven. However, symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause.
The two main ways to maintain your skin's health are through drinking plenty of water and using good skincare products that are suitable for your skin. Another good tip for keeping your skin healthy is getting plenty of sleep. It is recommended to sleep eight hours a night. There are lots of helpful skincare products out there to help keep the skin moisturised. A typical skincare routine includes a cleanser, serums, treatments, moisturisers, and sun cream. In these products, there are lots of active ingredients that help keep the skin healthy and hydrated. This includes ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, retinol, vitamin C, and lactic acid. Also, there are lots of skin conditions that could be causing your skin problems. These include acne, alopecia dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea.
The skin’s barrier function
The stratum corneum (SC) acts as a skin barrier, and its function is to protect us from environmental dangers and dehydration. The SC has three essential lipids, each of which has its own role. There are ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol in the SC. If the skin barrier is damaged or impaired, it may lead to disease and improper function. Ensuring that the skin barrier is intact and healthy is very important. If the SC is damaged or affected by disease, it won't be able to protect the body from potential harm.1
Skin repair mechanism
The body's skin repair mechanisms are very important in maintaining good health. These repair mechanisms are especially important when dealing with wound healing. There are a few mechanisms used in wound healing. These include contraction, connective tissue matrix deposition, and epithelialisation. Repairing the skin is very complex and involves many factors at different stages. Five layers in the epidermis need to be healed when repairing a wound. Growth factors such as EGF, KGF, and TGF-a are key in wound healing.4
Although understanding the wound healing process is very important, understanding the general skin repair mechanisms is also very useful. The underlying mechanism of skin repair consists of three overlapping phases. Phase one starts with inflammation, followed by tissue formation, and then tissue remodelling. Each of these phases has its own specific cellular mechanisms to ensure that the skin is repaired correctly. The extent of the repair depends on the severity of the damage or wound. Usually, this can be broken down into two categories: a partial or full-thickness wound. Furthermore, this can then be split into superficial or deep wounds.3
Influence of dehydration on skin
Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough water. This can cause many health problems, especially in elderly people. One of these health issues is unhealthy skin.6 Studies show that increasing water intake helps correct dehydration-related problems.2 Improving your hydration throughout the day improves skin health and may be very beneficial for those with pre-existing skin conditions or elderly people.6 Dehydrated skin can be dry, flaky, irritable, uneven, dull, and itchy. Dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of natural oils. This can be caused by using the wrong skincare products that are overly stripping or you may naturally have drier skin. If you think you have dry skin, you can consult a dermatologist who will identify any underlying causes.
The role of hydration in skin repair
Adequate hydration is important for maintaining good health, including your skin. Hydrated skin helps maintain the skin's integrity and creates a moist environment that helps promote wound healing. Research suggests that good hydration levels create an optimal environment for skin repair.5 Hydration is involved in skin repair. Adequate water intake is arguably the most important.2
Maintaining healthy and hydrated skin
There are different ways to maintain healthy, hydrated skin, and these depend on the underlying cause of the dehydrated skin. Frequent underlying causes include
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Naturally dry skin
- Harsh skincare products
- Low water intake
- Inadequate sleep
- Unbalanced diet
If you think you have any of these problems and want to look into some solutions, it is best to consult with a dermatologist.
The first thing you should do to maintain hydrated skin is to drink enough water. The NHS recommends drinking 6-8 cups of water a day. Hydration plays a vital role in skin repair because the skin constantly needs repairing and renewing. The outermost layer of the skin is replaced thousands of times during your life so these mechanisms must be well maintained through adequate hydration.7 Alongside staying hydrated throughout the day, another way to maintain healthy skin is through skincare products. Choosing the right skincare products may seem daunting and expensive at first. However, there are a few helpful tips to help you start looking. The main steps that should be involved in your skincare routine include:
- Serums and treatments
- Sun cream
Although all these steps may be useful, the most important steps are sunlight protection, cleansing, and moisturising. In these products, there are some key ingredients used to target skin hydration. These ingredients are
- Hyaluronic acid
- Vitamin C
- Green tea
- Lactic acid
Specific skin conditions
Certain skin conditions may be the underlying cause that is responsible for your skin feeling dehydrated. Below is a list of skin conditions that can cause your skin to feel dry.8
- Acne: A very common skin condition. It occurs when sebum oil clogs the skin, resulting in outbreaks and pimples.
- Psoriasis: A chronic autoimmune disease that causes patches of skin to become inflamed. These patches often occur in cycles that flare up and then calm down. Usually, this can be treated with creams and ointments, but this depends on the severity.
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema): A chronic skin condition that results in inflammation, redness, and irritation. This condition tends to cause intense itchiness, and scratching can worsen these symptoms.
- Rosacea: A long-term inflammatory disease, like the others mentioned. Rosacea is a red rash that appears on the nose and cheeks. There is no cure for rosacea. However, there are ways to manage the symptoms. This includes medications and ways to reduce certain triggers, such as stress.
The role of hydration is very important when looking at skin repair mechanisms. It is vital that these repair mechanisms are well maintained as skin is replaced thousands of times in a lifetime normally, and it is also important when dealing with wounds or environmental damage. The outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis, and the skin barrier is called the stratum corneum. This barrier helps protect the skin from any potential dangers from the environment. Sufficient hydration is needed so that the various skin repair mechanisms can function correctly.
Dehydration is caused by low water intake and can result in the breakdown of these skin repair mechanisms. This can lead to the skin feeling dry, red, inflamed, and dull. Although low water intake is one of the contributing factors to these symptoms, it is not the only one. Other underlying causes, such as poor sleep, age, skin type, pre-existing skin conditions, and unsuitable skincare products, can result in unhealthy skin. An easy way to help solve these problems is to drink more water, 6-8 cups of water a day is recommended.
Studies show that increasing your water intake boosts your skin's health, making it feel more moisturised, plumper, and brighter. Furthermore, research suggests that hydrated skin creates a better environment for wound healing and increases skin integrity. Once you have started to drink more water and make sure you get a good night's sleep, there are skincare products that may help address some of your skin concerns.
A good skincare routine consists of a cleanser, serum or treatment, moisturiser, and sun cream. Within these products are active ingredients that promote skin hydration. In addition to this, there may be an underlying skin condition causing your symptoms. These symptoms may also be reduced when you increase your water levels and use suitable products recommended by a dermatologist. Common skin conditions include acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. If you are struggling with your skin, it is best to contact a professional dermatologist who will be able to help address any of your skin concerns further.
- Jungersted JM, Hellgren LI, Jemec GBE, Agner T. Lipids and skin barrier function – a clinical perspective. Contact Dermatitis [Internet]. 2008 May [cited 2023 Sep 4];58(5):255–62. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2008.01320.x
- Palma L, Marques LT, Bujan J, Rodrigues LM. Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol [Internet]. 2015 Aug 3 [cited 2023 Sep 5];8:413–21. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263
- Rittié L. Cellular mechanisms of skin repair in humans and other mammals. J Cell Commun Signal [Internet]. 2016 Jun [cited 2023 Sep 5];10(2):103–20. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882309/
- Schultz GS, Chin GA, Moldawer L, Diegelmann RF. Principles of wound healing. In: Fitridge R, Thompson M, editors. Mechanisms of Vascular Disease: A Reference Book for Vascular Specialists [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011 [cited 2023 Sep 4]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534261/
- Ousey K, Cutting KF, Rogers AA, Rippon MG. The importance of hydration in wound healing: reinvigorating the clinical perspective. J Wound Care [Internet]. 2016 Mar 2 [cited 2023 Sep 6];25(3):122–30. Available from: https://core.ac.uk/reader/30734473?utm_source=linkout
- Bennett JA. Dehydration: hazards and benefits. Geriatric Nursing [Internet]. 2000 Mar 1 [cited 2023 Sep 11];21(2):84–8. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019745720039509X
- Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P. Epidermis and its renewal by stem cells. In: Molecular Biology of the Cell 4th edition [Internet]. Garland Science; 2002 [cited 2023 Sep 11]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26865/
- Branch NSC and O. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 2017 [cited 2023 Sep 11]. Skin diseases. Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/skin-diseases