A recent review provides a timely update regarding what is known about skin barrier damage and itch. The review, which appeared online August 22 in Acta Dermatology Venereology, also discusses the benefits and risks of current treatments and highlights promising prospects in development.
It is widely known that dry skin occurs in different populations and diseases, and as part of the aging process, says lead author Gil Yosipovitch, M.D.
"However, this review is timely because the last time there was a review published on this topic was almost 10 years ago," he adds. Dr. Yosipovitch is professor and director of the Miami Itch Center at the Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
During the past decade, much information about new topical options, particularly treatments for dry skin that could also help associated itch, has emerged, says Dr. Yosipovitch. "Everyone is giving emollients for dry skin. But sometimes, you must have, in addition, something that reduces the itch."
Supplementary ingredients can help target multiple components of the itch pathway. For example, cannabinoid-based topicals are a very hot topic, notes Dr. Yosipovitch. Studies have shown that incorporating an endocannabinoid-targeting component within a cream, such as N-palmitoylethanolamine, decreases itch sensation by boosting barrier lipid content. Although little research comparing specific preparations presently exists, he says, it's important for dermatologists to know that these drugs impact the skin barrier along with itch.
Dr. Yosipovitch has been a consultant, advisory board member and principal investigator for Eli Lilly, Kiniksa, Menlo Therapeutics, Pfizer and Regeneron and Sanofi. He also has been a consultant and advisory board member for AbbVie, Bayer, Galderma, Novartis and Trevi Therapeutics. Additionally, he has been an advisory board member for CeraVe and Pierre Fabre, and a principal investigator for Sun Pharma.
Yosipovitch G, Misery L, Proksch E, Metz M, Ständer S, Schmelz M. Skin barrier damage and itch: review of mechanisms, topical management and future directions. Acta Derm Venereol. 2019 Aug 22. doi: 10.2340/00015555-3296. [Epub ahead of print]