Glycerol accelerates recovery of barrier function in vivo

Acta Derm Venereol. 1999 Nov;79(6):418-21. doi: 10.1080/000155599750009825.


Two studies were performed to evaluate the influence of glycerol on the recovery of damaged stratum corneum barrier function. Measurements of transepidermal water loss and capacitance were conducted in a 3-day follow-up after tape stripping (study 1) and a 7-day follow-up after a barrier damage due to a repeated washing with sodium lauryl sulphate. In study 1 a faster barrier repair (transepidermal water loss) was monitored in glycerol-treated sites. Significant differences between glycerol open vs. untreated and glycerol occluded vs. untreated were observed at day 3. Stratum corneum hydration showed significantly higher values in the sites treated with glycerol+occlusion, compared with all other sites. In study 2 a faster barrier repair was seen in glycerol-treated sites, with significant differences against untreated and base-treated sites 7 days after the end of the treatment. Stratum corneum hydration showed highest values in the glycerol treated sites after 3 days of treatment. Glycerol creates a stimulus for barrier repair and improves the stratum corneum hydration; stratum corneum hydration is not strictly related to barrier homeostasis and can be optimized by different mechanisms and pathways. The observed effects were based on the modulation of barrier repair and were not biased by the humectant effect of glycerol. As the glycerol-induced recovery of barrier function and stratum corneum hydration were observed even 7 days after the end of treatment, glycerol can be regarded as a barrier stabilizing and moisturizing compound.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Epidermis / drug effects*
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycerol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects*


  • Glycerol