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Over 18,550 dermatologist, research investigators and other people interested in dermatology and skin care attended the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., USA on March 4-8, 2016.

Formulation tips for developing the optimal skin moisturizer

The Science of Cosmeceuticals and Nutraceuticals is a forum that is very popular with dermatologists. Dr Zoe Draelos, consulting professor, Department of Dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA presented on the Anatomy of a Skin Moisturizer. Dr. Draelos using an example of a very successful "cosmeceutical" moisturizer available in the market place categorized the function of the key ingredients and how each contributes to the success of the product. Highlight of the presentation follow. Dr. Draelos first provided a definition of a cosmeceutical. In the United States, The Food and Drug Administration is the regulatory authority for drugs and cosmetics. The FDA has no accepted definition of a cosmeceutical, although this word has been commonly used for many years. A cosmeceutical moisturizer should be formulated with two goals in mind, a functional goal and an aspirational goal.

The functional goal is to enhance the hydration and improve the texture of skin. Second, the aspirational goal is to provide medicinal benefits. Anti aging, skin tone evening, anti redness are examples of such aspirational goals. To achieve both functional and aspirational objectives the successful moisturizer used as the example contains optical ingredients that provide luminosity and brightness to skin. These are ingredients that provide soft focus effects. The product contains glycosaminoglycan's (GAG), hyaluronic acid is an example of a GAG that helps the skin retain moisture. Urea was added to the formulation, to increase skin hydration. Low levels of urea are typically found in dry skin and studies show that urea opens up water binding sites in skin allowing for enhanced moisturization. Aquaporin 3 (AQP3) is an example of such a water channel mentioned by Dr. Draelos. Film formers were added to the formulation to enhance the visual appearance of skin and to make the skin feel smoother to the touch. To further achieve the aspirational goals and permit an antiaging claim meeting the FDA requirements sun filters were added to the formulation to provide photo protection. R. Draelos noted that more recently products are containing amino acids and metals. Short chain amino acid peptides are reported in the literature to stimulate collagen and carrier peptides have been reported to deliver metals to skin that stimulate production of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteases, including TIMP1 and TIMP-2 inhibiting the breakdown of collagen in skin. The formulation contains antioxidants, frequently tocopherol. Dr Draelos cautioned that not all antioxidants are necessary biologically active. The formulation contains ingredients to decrease inflammation of skin, frequently botanicals are used. Examples mentioned included licorice, comfrey and Argan oil. Finally the successful moisturizer uses an extolment to smooth the skin surface and enhance light reflection from skin.


Relief for the Chronic Itch

The Marion B. Sulzberger, MD Lectureship was presented by Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, Professor and Chair, Department Dermatology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. USA.

Dr. Yosipovitch is a leading scientist in the field of chronic itch.

An itch is not very different from pain with respect to the influence on people suffering from chronic itch. His lecture was entitled "The Science of Itch: Learning to Quiet an Overcharged Nervous System. "According to Dr. Yosipovitch itching is often linked to a disease, but in fact it is also its own disease state.


What is an itch?

An itch is an interaction of nerves connecting to the brain. There are two major neuronal pathways pathways. One is histarminergic and the other is non-histarmenagenic. People suffering from a chronic itch generally are affected by the non-histarminergic itch. The itch that people feel is the result of an interaction between the cells of the skin; keratinocytes, nerves in the epidermis and dermal epidermal junction and immune cells. According to Dr. Yosipovitch it is the result of an overcharged nervous system that sends information to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord. Approximately ten years ago Dr. Martin Schmelz in Germany found that C fibers in human skin are sensitive to itching triggered by histamine, a substance normally released by allergic reactions. More recently other nerve fibers were found to transmit itch that are not associated with histamine. In this case antihistamines are found not to very effective in reducing the itch feeling.

New Approaches for Relief of Itching

A new area of itch relief research is the discovery that areas of the brain that respond to reward and pleasure are linked to the ability of a drug, butorphanol that can help to relieve histaminogenic derived itching.

This finding indicates that the brain's opiod receptor plays a role in the itch sensation. According to Dr. Yosipovitch, understanding how this mechanism works to relieve itch will help to identify more specific targets in the brain for treating both histaminogenic and non histaminogenic itching. Current treatments include topical steroids for eczema lesions. Steroids do not relieve the itch, rather they reduce inflammation that helps to reduce the itch. Moisturizes that also help to protect the upper layers of skin. Other potential promising itch treatments are prostaglandins. While some prostaglandin will induce itching, it was found that prostaglandin D can inhibit itching in animals.

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