Time-dependent variations of the skin barrier function in humans: transepidermal water loss, stratum corneum hydration, skin surface pH, and skin temperature

J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Jan;110(1):20-3. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1998.00069.x.


Although circadian rhythms have been described for many human functions, there are minimal data on circadian rhythms related to skin physiology. This study investigated the circadian rhythmicity of skin variables related to skin barrier function in humans. We measured transepidermal water loss, stratum corneum moisture, skin surface pH, and skin temperature in 16 healthy volunteers (nine men and seven women, aged 23-53 y). Subjects were sampled every 2 h in two sessions over a 24 h span. Twelve samples were obtained for each variable in the following sites: forehead, forearm, upper back, and shin. We used cosinor analysis and ANOVA to validate observed differences. Time-dependent rhythms were detected in most skin variables except in stratum corneum hydration. We found a statistically significant circadian rhythmicity characterized by cosinor analysis in transepidermal water loss, skin surface pH, and skin temperature on the forearm, forehead, and shin. Peak-trough differences occurred in all locations. The values of the same variables measured at different sites correlated positively, whereas the values of the different variables did not. These results suggest that skin permeability is higher in the evening and night than in the morning. These data may be clinically relevant in several aspects applied to skin physiology and topical drug application.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Water / metabolism
  • Water Loss, Insensible / physiology


  • Water