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Skin protection creams in medical settings: successful or evil?

Emmanuelle Xhauflaire-Uhoda1, Elena Macarenko1, Raphaël Denooz2, Corinne Charlier2 and Gérald E Piérard1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Skin Bioengineering and Imaging, Department of Dermatopathology, Liège, Belgium

2 Department of Clinical Toxicology, University Hospital of Liège, Liège, Belgium

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Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2008, 3:15  doi:10.1186/1745-6673-3-15

Published: 25 July 2008



Chronic exposure to mild irritants including cleansing and antiseptic products used for hand hygiene generates insults to the skin. To avoid unpleasant reactions, skin protection creams are commonly employed, but some fail to afford protection against a variety of xenobiotics. In this study, two skin protection creams were assayed comparatively looking for a protective effect if any against a liquid soap and an alcohol-based gel designed for hand hygiene in medical settings.


Corneosurfametry and corneoxenometry are two in vitro bioessays which were selected for their good reproducibility, sensitivity and ease of use. A Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA test followed by the Dunn test was realized to compare series of data obtained.


Significant differences in efficacy were obtained between the two assayed skin protection creams. One of the two tested creams showed a real protective effect against mild irritants, but the other tested cream presented an irritant potential in its application with mild irritants.


The differences observed for the two tested skin protection creams were probably due to their galenic composition and their possible interactions with the offending products. As a result, the present in vitro bioassays showed contrasted effects of the creams corresponding to either a protective or an irritant effect on human stratum corneum.