Moisturizer effect on irritant dermatitis: an overview

Contact Dermatitis. 2006 Aug;55(2):65-72. doi: 10.1111/j.0105-1873.2006.00890.x.


Moisturizers are empirically used as prevention and treatment of surfactant and irritant dermatitis. Some products state they not only improve barrier function by providing moisturization but also create an environment optimal for healing. Yet, moisturizer clinical efficacy remains a topic of controversy. We reviewed publication from 1992 to 2006 that quantitatively examines moisturizer effectiveness, as an update of our prior overview, Zhai and Maibach in 1998 (2). We intuitively (in a testimonial sense) believe that moisturizers are sometimes effective for preventing and treating irritant dermatitis. However, moisturizer may not be broadly effective (8, 12) and may be relatively specific against certain acids, bases, hydrophilics, and lipophilics. We need to develop principles of what is formulated in moisturizers to improve efficacy; for this purpose, there is a need for experimental moisturizer models for comparative studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Irritant / therapy*
  • Emollients / therapeutic use*
  • Humans


  • Emollients