Percutaneous absorption of water in skin: a review

Rev Environ Health. 2014;29(3):175-80. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2014-0045.


Abstract Background: The stratum corneum has a wide variety of important functions, including host protection from foreign chemicals and bacteria, water loss prevention, and body temperature regulation. While water absorption studies on healthy intact skin are abundant, data on the percutaneous absorption of water in diseased skin are less common.

Methods: We reviewed Pubmed search results for "stratum corneum", "absorption", "percutaneous" and "water", and determined relevant articles that discussed percutaneous penetration of water into skin.

Results: Both percutaneous absorption of water and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) rates increase when the stratum corneum is damaged.

Conclusions: Heating the skin increases the rate of percutaneous penetration of water, while freezing does not alter the absorption of water. Patients with diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis have increased TEWL compared with disease-free individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ointments
  • Racial Groups
  • Skin Absorption*
  • Temperature
  • Water*


  • Ointments
  • Water