The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Jul;71(1):177-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.01.891. Epub 2014 Mar 20.


Ceramides (CERs) are epidermal lipids that are important for skin barrier function. Much research has been devoted to identifying the numerous CERs found in human skin and their function. Alterations in CER content are associated with a number of skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis. Newer formulations of skin-care products have incorporated CERs into their formulations with the goal of exogenously applying CERs to help skin barrier function. CERs are a complex class of molecules and because of their growing ubiquity in skin-care products, a clear understanding of their role in skin and use in skin-care products is essential for clinicians treating patients with skin diseases. This review provides an overview of the structure, function, and importance of skin CERs in diseased skin and how CERs are being used in skin-care products to improve or restore skin barrier function.

Keywords: ceramide; epidermal repair; skin barrier; skin care; skin disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ceramides / administration & dosage
  • Ceramides / chemistry
  • Ceramides / physiology
  • Ceramides / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / physiopathology
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Gaucher Disease / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Psoriasis / physiopathology
  • Skin Care*
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*


  • Ceramides