February 2020 - Zel Skin
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New Skin Care Strategies for Contact Dermatitis

It’s happened to all of us: You buy a new skin care product, maybe a cream or cleanser, and have a bad reaction. Sometimes the reaction manifests as a rash, while other times it can lead to acne excessive dryness, and redness. Around 50 percent of all people who use these products will experience this reaction, which is also known as contact dermatitis. But with around half of all product users experiencing contact dermatitis, scientists should have a clearer reason for its development and a preventative strategy – right?

Until now, the best form of contact dermatitis prevention has been to avoid products containing allergens or triggers. However, a new study has identified a clearer cause of why contact dermatitis forms with some products. With this new understanding, better, allergen-free products may be widely available in the future, putting a stop to most product-related contact dermatitis.


How Contact Dermatitis Forms

Allergic reactions are often triggered by molecules called peptides, which carry information between tissues. These molecules are known to trigger immune cells, known as T-cells. Strangely, the products we’re talking about – commonly used skin care treatments – don’t include peptides. In fact, the molecules those products include are thought to be too small to be seen by T-cells. That changed just recently with the publication of a paper in Science Immunology.

The researchers in this study found that a molecule in our skin, called CD1A, binds to some skin care product chemicals. This results in a larger molecule, which is then able to be noticed by T-cells. Several skin care product ingredients were discovered to create this reaction, including benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate, which are molecules commonly used in vanilla-scented oil.

The researchers also looked into another ingredient, farnesol, which can displace natural skin oils. This indicates that T-cells recognize that the CD1A molecule isn’t just large – it’s actually the same molecule with a different shape. As a result, researchers are now confident that they can find a compound like farnesol that can bind to CD1A without causing an immune response. This, they hope, should be able to prevent contact dermatitis.


What Does This Mean for You?

Because this research is so new, there aren’t any companies or products taking applying this new information just yet. In fact, researchers are still looking for a better compound to bind with CD1A. That said, when this research is put into practice, it will likely result in less triggering skin care products – and a severe reduction in contact dermatitis.

For now, avoidance is still the best preventative strategy for contact dermatitis, but that could change in the next few years. If you’re not sure which products you need to avoid to prevent a rash from forming, skin patch allergy tests are the best way forward.


Finding a Personalized Skin Care Strategy

While some patients and dermatologists may draw a line between cosmetic and medical dermatology, these branches of medicine are intricately intertwined. Every dermatologist should be up to date on industry research, including papers like this. Continually learning about how the skin reacts to certain chemicals and compounds is an important part of providing the best possible care. This is exactly the type of professional treatment you’ll receive at Zel Skin & Laser Specialists.

Our practitioners can help you develop an ideal skin care routine that minimizes the likelihood of developing contact dermatitis and other skin rashes. If you have a rash and don’t know its source, we can also help you find the cause. Contact one of our Minneapolis-area dermatology clinics to learn more about how certain medicines and products can alleviate your contact dermatitis symptoms. Our team can provide personalized care and treatment strategies, as well as access to prescription-strength skin care products.


2 Carlson Parkway N., Suite 100
Plymouth, MN 55447

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