Dry skin management: practical approach in light of latest research on skin structure and function

J Dermatolog Treat. 2020 Nov;31(7):716-722. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2019.1607024. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


Dry skin is a common condition that is attributed to a lack of water in the stratum corneum. With the availability of new technologies, light has been shed on the pathophysiology of dry skin at the molecular level. With the aim to discuss implications of this latest research for the optimal formulation of emollients designed to treat dry skin, five specialists met in November 2017. Research on three topics thereby provided particularly detailed new insights on how to manage dry skin: research on the lipid composition and organization of the stratum corneum, research on natural moisturizing factors, and research on the peripheral nervous system. There was consensus that latest research expands the rationale to include physiological lipids in an emollient used for dry skin, as they were found to be essential for an adequate composition and organization in the stratum corneum but are reduced in dry skin. Latest findings also confirmed the incorporation of carefully selected humectants into a topical emollient for dry skin, given the reduced activity of enzymes involved in the synthesis of moisturizing factors when skin is dry. Overall, the group of specialists concluded that the previous concept of the five components for an ideal emollient for dry skin is well in accordance with latest research.

Keywords: Dry skin; dexpanthenol; position paper; skin care; topical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Emollients / administration & dosage*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipids / physiology
  • Skin Care
  • Skin Diseases / genetics
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Water / physiology


  • Emollients
  • Lipids
  • Water