The skin protects us from a variety of external irritants
The skin plays an important role in maintaining our lives. For example, it has a barrier function that protects the internal organs and serves as a sensor that detects external irritation and changes in the outer environment.
In this section, we would like to dig deeper into the barrier function of the skin, which has particular relevance to skin care.
The most important role of the barrier function of the skin is to prevent the evaporation of water from inside the body and protect the body from foreign invaders, such as bacteria and chemicals.
The skin is said to be the largest organ of the body. It covers the body and protects it through its versatile functions.
Skin is largely composed of three layers
Skin is made up of the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin, the dermis beneath the epidermis, and the subcutaneous fat. The outermost layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum, which plays an important role in the barrier function.
The structure of baby skin is basically the same as that of adult skin. However, baby skin is much thinner, and its barrier function is still immature. This is why a baby’s skin requires extra care.
A baby’s skin is delicate and vulnerable to dryness
A baby’s skin looks so soft and beautiful that you may think that it requires no skin care. However, a baby’s skin is very delicate.
The stratum corneum maintains the normal functioning of the skin by striking a balance among moisture, NMF (natural moisturizing factor), and intercellular lipids. Shiseido’s physiological research of the skin has shown that compared to adult skin, baby skin has much less moisture, a lower NMF, and fewer intercellular lipids throughout the year, making it more vulnerable to dryness.*
Moreover, babies often drool, cry, and sweat, and wiping drool, tears, and sweat irritates their skin, further lowering its barrier function.
Now you see why babies need proper skin care.
* Yasuharu Kawajiri et al., Journal of Pediatric Dermatology, 1993:12(1):77-81