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Aging-associated alterations in epidermal function and their clinical significance.


Chronologically-aged skin displays multiple functional changes in both the dermis and the epidermis. It appears that epidermal dysfunction, compromised permeability homeostasis, reduced stratum corneum hydration and elevated skin surface pH predispose to the development of aging-associated cutaneous and extracutaneous disorders. Improvements in epidermal function have been shown to be an effective alternative therapy in the prevention and treatment of some aging-associated cutaneous disorders, including eczematous dermatitis, pruritus, and xerosis. Recent studies demonstrated that epidermal dysfunction leads to the development of chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation, termed 'inflammaging,' which is linked to the development of aging-associated systemic disorders. Thus, correction of epidermal dysfunction could comprise a novel strategy in the prevention and treatment of aging-associated systemic disorders as well. In this review, we summarize aging-associated alterations in epidermal function, their underlying mechanisms, and their clinical significance. Regimens to improve epidermal function in the elderly are also discussed.

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