According to a study, researchers examined the acidity of the skin appears to be significantly higher in atopic dermatitis (AD) patients than in controls without the condition, indicating that increased skin pH may heighten the risk of developing AD.

Skin pH protects against outside microorganism and bacteria colonization, as well as helps adhesion of nonpathogen bacteria on the skin. Acidity plays an important role in maintaining skin barrier permeability and homeostasis, as well as stratum corneum desquamation and integrity/cohesion.

In the study, the investigators measured the skin pH of 31 pediatric and adult AD patients (54.8% female; 74.2% had the mild-to-moderate disease) and compared it with those of matched controls (n=31).

pH Value In The AD

The mean pH value in the AD group was significantly higher than in the control group (6.25 vs 5.20; p<0.05). Analysis revealed that compared with a low pH (<5.20), a high pH (>5.20) was strongly associated with a greater likelihood of developing AD (odds ratio, 41.5; 95% CI, 5.00–344.76; p=0.000). 

Xerosis

One of the most important factors in AD pathogenesis is pH value. Among patients, increased skin pH is associated with decreased sebum secretion, reduced lipid maturation in the stratum corneum and filaggrin degradation, the investigator noted. These factors, along with poor hydration, all contribute to xerosis or dry skin.

The goals of AD therapy include improving the skin’s barrier function, suppressing inflammation and relieving pruritus. According to Karna, a good epidermal barrier will improve overall skin condition and maintain skin physiology, such as hydration and pH.

Skin pH

As such, AD patients may benefit from maintaining an optimal skin pH by using soaps that help balance acidity and emollients to improve skin barriers, the investigator added. Published data regarding the pH of currently available cleansers and emollients have to be updated, as pointed out in a review.

Additionally, the utility of pH in these products should be explored in well-designed studies comparing those of varying pH and quantifying both the immediate effects and the long-term clinical benefit of sustained use in AD patients.

The author concludes that important as the consideration of pH normalization will continue to be part of a comprehensive treatment plan in the AD and other cutaneous diseases.