This is the second article in a series discussing effects of occlusion on skin. (The series opened in November 2003 with a focus on percutaneous absorption.) The present article focuses on the effects of occlusive and semipermeable membranes on wound healing and summarizes related data.
Skin occlusion is a complex issue that includes altering epidermal lipids, DNA synthesis, epidermal turnover, pH, epidermal morphology, sweat glands, Langerhans cells stresses, etc. Occlusion usually means the skin is covered directly or indirectly by impermeable films or substances such as diapers, tape, chambers, gloves, textiles garments, wound dressings, transdermal devices, etc.; but certain topical vehicles that contain fats and/or polymer oils (petrolatum, paraffin, etc.) may also generate occlusive effects.
A broad selection of occlusive or semi-occlusive dressings has been long employed to speed the healing processes in acute and chronic wounds. They keep healing tissues moist and increase superficial wound epithelialization. However, occlusive or semiocclusive dressings can increase microorganisms and hence induce wound infections. Significant increases in the density of Staphylococcus aureus and lipophilic diphtheroids were observed after 24 h occlusion in eczematous and psoriatic skin.