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Terrance L Baker, Speaker at Dermatology Conferences
Johns Hopkins Medicine, United States
Title : Treatment of xerosis of the skin with plant-based and mineral hydrocarbon-based oils


Introduction. The integrity of the epidermis requires adequate hydration. Dehydration results in dry skin diseases often leads to functional abnormalities. We compare treatments of the skin with traditional 

mineral hydrocarbon-based (MHB) preparations to those with natural plant-based (NPB) preparations. Ingredients are assessed with the purpose of explaining the differences in mode of action among these lipophilic ingredients.

Methods. Treatments containing NPB and MHB for xerosis of the skin were compared using a meta-analysis of the literature to assess ingredient differences in up to 10 commonly used pharmaceutical agents. Databases included the National Institutes of Health, DailyMed, Therapeutic Research Center Natural Medicines, and IBM MicroMedex. Data were tabulated encompassing active ingredients preventing dehydration in each preparation. Ingredients were studied to determine safety and efficacy.

Results. The use of MHB preparations, principally petrolatum containing non-polar lipids, cover ocular and skin surfaces and have an extended treatment duration, but leaves inconvenient, unwanted, and at times intolerable, damaging or even toxic residues. The NPB preparations consist principally of triglycerides with their polar triester glycerol residue, which is moderately polar, and the phospholipids, which possess formal charges and are strongly polar. Results provide comparisons of ingredients between MHB (n=11) and NPB (n=10) preparations on the basis of efficacy and safety to the skin. Results propose that NPB preparations are safer and more efficacious than MHB preparations to further guide treatment.

Conclusion. The MHB preparations are nonpolar, function passively and hydrate the ocular surface and skin coverings by coating and sealing. This prevents further dehydration while allowing natural body processes to hydrate. Lipids from natural plant sources are very polar and can function actively, especially the anionic polar phospholipids which can penetrate and hydrate the skin. This study (1) catalogs MHB and NPB topical skin preparations, and (2) presents differences in their mode of action. Understanding the composition and mode of action of these preparations may ultimately focus treatments for xerotic skin diseases and facilitate hydration of body coverings.


Terrance L. Baker, MD, MS, is board certified in family medicine, emergency medicine, and geriatrics. Dr. Baker is a graduate of George Washington University School of Medicine and holds a Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University. He is the medical director of Sollay Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Baker is a member of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine. He also holds teaching posts at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, and the New York University. Dr.  Baker has multiple publications and has lectured in the USA and Internationally on SARS-CoV-2.