What is corneotherapy?

Corneotherapy Specifics

While base creams used in corneotherapy don't contain pharmaceutical agents that could potentially cause side effects, they often do contain substances that mimic or aid in the regeneration of skin structure.

One of these substances is derma membrane structure, or DMS. DMS is similar to the lipid content of the skin and not only aids in the skin's barrier function, but also facilitates skin regeneration. Holding to corneotherapeutic ideals, DMS doesn't contain preservatives, perfumes or emulsifiers, which can irritate or affect the skin's barrier integrity. How? When sensitive skin detects a foreign agent, even if it's just a light perfume additive, it spurs an immune response that disrupts the skin's normal regenerative process.

Liposomes and nanoparticles are also sometimes mixed into base creams for use in corneotherapy. These substances facilitate the release of linoleic acid and ceramides into the skin, which serve as building block materials for the repair of the stratum corneum.

Since skin treated through corneotherapy is by nature experiencing barrier problems, practitioners are careful to use only substances in creams that won't adversely affect the skin, especially knowing that they will penetrate into deeper layers. Certain substances, such as mineral oil or paraffin oil, may provide a secondary barrier against water loss, only to hinder repair of the problem itself.

For this reason, only substances with components that are similar in structure to the stratum corneum are used.

Other examples of this include:

  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol
  • Shea butter
  • Urea
  • Amino acids
  • Lipid substances
  • Vitamins A, C and E

A polysaccharide produced from yeast, CM-glucan, can be added to base creams to help make skin less sensitive to UV rays. As with other active agents, corneotherapists believe most substances used for UV protection are effective but ultimately damage the skin in the long run and maintain that the best protection from the sun can be had from blocking it with clothing alone.

The end result of treatment, Kligman (and others) believe, is a smoothly functioning stratum corneum that isn't constantly having to allocate resources to inflammatory responses in the presence of allergens. By achieving this, it's hoped that premature aging can be prevented and normal aging delayed as much as possible.

Want more on cutting-edge skin care? Try the links to more HowStuffWorks articles below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Moisturizing and Cleansing Key to Treating Atopic Dermatitis." Mar. 2, 2006. (Sep. 24, 2009) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/moisturizing_cleansing.html
  • Dermaviduals. "Corneotherapy - ...more than just a surface application." Oct. 27, 2007. (Sep. 21, 2009)http://www.dermaviduals.de/english/publications/special-actives/corneotherapy-more-than-just-a-surface-application.html
  • Dermaviduals. "Specific active agents and bases in corneotherapy." (Sep. 21, 2009) http://www.dermaviduals.de/english/publications/special-actives/specific-active-agents-and-bases-in-corneotherapy.html
  • Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem?" WebMD. (Sep. 20, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/whats-causing-your-dry-skin-problem
  • Kezic, Sanja; et al. "Loss-of-Function Mutations in the Filaggrin Gene Lead to Reduced Level of Natural Moisturizing Factor in the Stratum Corneum." Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Feb. 28, 2008.http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v128/n8/full/jid200829a.html
  • Lübbe, Jann. "Evidence-Based Corneotherapy." Dermatology. 2000.http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowPDF&ArtikelNr=18388&Ausgabe=225593&ProduktNr=224164&filename=18388.pdf
  • McCord, Darlene. "Using Remedy Nutrashield to Prevent Excessive Transepidermal Water Loss (e-TEWL)." Medline Industries. (Sep. 20, 2009) http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:GuU3aRaVu5YJ:www.medlineplace.com/woundcare/products/remedy/pdfs/ETEWL.pdf+antioxidants+corneotherapy&hl=en&gl=us
  • National Cancer Institute. "Derma-membrane-structure topical cream." (Sept. 20, 2009)http://www.cancer.gov/drugdictionary/?CdrID=609877
  • Obagi, Suzan. "Why does skin wrinkle with age? What is the best way to slow or prevent this process?" Sep. 26, 2005. (Sep. 20, 2009)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-skin-wrinkle-wit
  • Swanson, Jason R.; Melton, Jeffrey L., M.D. "Anatomy and Histology of the Skin." Loyola University Dermatology Medical Education Website. (Sep. 21, 2009) http://www.meddean.luc.edu/lumen/MedEd/medicine/dermatology/MELTON/skinlsn/sknlsn.htm

More to Explore