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Examining Skin: A Functional Barrier

By: Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD
Posted: March 2, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 8 of 13

The keratinization process, which allows for keratinocytes to turn into corneocytes is a complicated one, dependent on many factors.

During the movement upward of the epidermal cells to the skin surface, as they enter the granular layer, the keratinization process is in its fullest. The cells become harder because their envelopes’ keratin level increases tremendously.

So, very simply, the differentiation process is inversely proportional to the proliferation process. When the proliferation increases, the differentiation processes decrease, and so does the keratinization. Conversely, when proliferation decreases, the differentiation processes increase.

It sounds perfectly logical that if you force the skin into proliferating more, it produces more new cells that, thusly, need to move up faster and push the old ones out faster. However, there is less time to move up and cover the same distance—resulting in less time for differentiation, keratinization, lipid mantle secretion, etc.

We can then conclude that stimulating proliferation too much can only affect the barrier function in the short- or even long-term, as long as the treatment lasts.

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