Urea and Skin: A Well-Known Molecule Revisited



For decades, urea is a well-established therapeutic agent for skin disorders. It is thus surprising that its mechanisms of action on the skin are only partly known. Recently, it was found that urea is much more than just a moisturizer, but is in fact a highly active substance. It appears that urea has specific gene regulatory activities which affect mRNA expression of certain genes involved in differentiation of keratinocytes and can be used to enhance barrier function and innate immunity of human skin. These gene regulatory activities are mediated by specific urea transporters. These previously unknown biological properties explain many of the beneficial effects which are associated with the topical use of this well-known molecule. In this chapter, we summarize the most recent information on the mode of action of urea and its use in the treatment of skin disease and cosmetic indications.


Atopic Dermatitis Stratum Corneum Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Urea Treatment Hand Eczema 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine at the Heinrich-Heine-University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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