What Are Lipids?

‘Lipid’ is the scientific term for fats or oils. Lipids are organic molecules (i.e. carbon-containing molecules derived from living or once living organisms) that are defined by their solubility. They are (relatively) insoluble in water and other ‘polar’ solvents, and soluble in ‘nonpolar’ liquids, such as ether or chloroform. Cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids are examples of lipids.

Scaly Skin and Ichthyosis (Nothing To Do with Fish Skin)

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Scaly or flaky skin is what we see when the process of discarding the outermost cells of our skin is no longer invisible – as it should be. The shedding process has gone from being normal, that is, orderly and invisible, to being disorderly or ‘pathological’, and highly visible. The process of discarding these spent cells or ‘squames’ from the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is called ‘desquamation’. Normal desquamation is accomplished cell by cell and is imperceptible to the naked eye. The normal shedding of skin cells is aided by friction during our daily activities and is further helped  by bathing. [Read more…]

What Is a Fatty Acid?

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Fatty acids are a class of lipids (or fats) that consist of a hydrocarbon chain terminating at one end in an acidic, carboxyl group. In the body, they are often bound (‘esterified’) to other molecules to form ‘complex’ lipids, like phospholipids and triglycerides. In the stratum corneum, unbound or ‘free’ fatty acids are one of the 3 key classes of lipids that form the lamellar membranes of the stratum corneum. The other two are cholesterol and ceramides. Ceramides are another type of complex lipid which possess esterified fatty acids. [Read more…]

About Dry Skin

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Almost any one may experience may experience dry skin (or ‘xerosis’) at some point in time. For example, one’s skin can feel a bit dry when the relative humidity remains low for weeks on end, as it does in our indoor heated climate during the long winter months in places like Chicago or Winnipeg, or if one soaks in a hot bath too often or too long.  Then too, almost everyone’s skin will dry out somewhat as they age. And our skin often may feel a bit dry, if we are among the many adults who take statins to control blood cholesterol levels. [Read more…]

What Is a Ceramide?


Ceramides are a family of lipids that consist of two long chain fatty acids linked to one another by an amide group. [Read more…]

Psoriasis – Another Disorder of the Skin Barrier?

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Psoriasis is quite a common skin disease.  About 2% of people throughout the world will develop psoriasis at some point in their lives.  Typically the spots (or ‘lesions’) of psoriasis are red and scaly.  [Read more…]