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Why does my skin itch after applying a watery skin care product?


In recent years a steady increase of skin conditions like disorders of the connective tissue and rosacea skin have been observed. 

It appears that frequent fruit acid and chemical peelings have significantly contributed to this problem.
People concerned report on a temporary itching after applying O/W emulsions. In most cases the individuals affected have a dry skin (barrier disorder) with tendency to itching, dilated blood vessels and a weak connective tissue. The symptoms primarily depend on the concentration of water-soluble substances in the preparations whereas the chemical composition is insignificant here. The effects can be compared with the feeling when somebody "rubs salt into sore wounds" (German idiomatic expression) or in more technical terms, water-soluble substances penetrate below the horny layers and start to irritate the skin.
DMS based products (Derma Membrane Structure) are quite beneficial in this case provided that they are used in moderate dosage. A frequent or even excessive application may increase the local concentration of water-soluble substances - particularly in winter with cooler outside temperatures and over-heated rooms, often with a relative humidity of the air around 10 to 20 percent only. In these cases it is recommended to (a) reduce the application of water-containing products, (b) apply base cream High Classic Plus + NMF concentrate + hyaluronic acid and (c) use Oleogel Plus (water-free).
In case of frequent cleansing and pre-damaged skin also the hardness components of the drinking water will penetrate deeply into the skin particularly if the skin already is cracked (e.g. hands). This effect further destabilizes the skin barrier since the hardness components react with the fatty acids of the barrier layers and subsequently form insoluble fatty acid salts. The structure of the skin barrier is strongly destroyed. A worthwhile investment here is a home water softening unit.
The strongly disturbed skin is susceptible to infections caused by microorganisms; in extreme cases the facial skin may even spring up. Typical symptoms are itching and feelings of tension followed by inflammations which will not only affect cheeks and nose but also spread to the brims of the eyelids and to the perioral area between upper lip and nose and around the chin. Even Oleogel Plus will be no relief for the acutely inflamed skin as the fatty substances provide excellent living conditions for anaerobic bacterial strains like propionibacterium acnes and staphylococcus epidermis or in other words, bacterial strains that can live without atmospheric oxygen. The dermatologist will prescribe azelaic acid products here which are effective against anaerobic bacterial strains and unicellular organisms, or alternatively, antibiotics like erythromycin and metronidazole. Metronidazole also stabilizes the blood vessels in skin-neighboring areas. Vitamin K1 has the same effect but has been banned from skin care products since November 2009.
A week connective tissue mostly is a hereditary condition and can additionally be impaired by external circumstances such as, for instance, excessive peelings as mentioned above. Rosacea skin also cannot tolerate peeling procedures. The first rosacea symptoms become visible in the thirties and for women increasingly in the late forties with the hormonal change and beginning menopause. Recommended particularly for the preventive care of the rosacea-prone skin is base cream High Classic, liposome concentrate plus (contains 1 % azelaic acid as consistency agent), echinacea extract and butcher's broom serum. Both the latter mentioned active agent concentrates have vessel and tissue stabilizing effects.

Dr. Hans Lautenschläger

Addendum (October 22, 2018)

Since 2017 skin care products based on oleogels, free of mineral oils, with 5-α-reductase inhibitors (e.g. azelaic acid; up to 1% in cosmetics) and protease inhibitors (e.g. boswellic acids) are available (patent application DE 10 2017 002 125) - optionally with tranexamic acid (stabilizing capillaries) and betulinic acid (antiparasitic efficacy). They contain physiological lipids, which are absorbed in a short time and inhibit the specific anaerobic skin flora of rosacea.

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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