John Libbey Eurotext

European Journal of Dermatology


Prolonged but not short exposure to the climate in Antarctica is associated with increased skin barrier permeability, erythema, and pigmentation Volume 32, numéro 3, May-June 2022


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1 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Acibadem Cityclinic Tokuda Hospital, Sofia, Bulgaria
2 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Trakia University Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
Reprints: Razvigor Darlenski


Exposome factors originating from the surrounding environment influence skin structure and physiology. Climate conditions (cold, high air humidity), solar radiation, and air pollutants induce epidermal barrier breakdown, and stimulate oxidative stress effects on the skin. It is currently unclear how skin barrier permeability, as well as skin pigmentation and inflammation, is affected by environmental factors in Antarctica.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of short (four days) and longer (30 days) exposure to climate conditions of Antarctica on skin physiology parameters.

Materials & Methods

Nineteen Caucasian healthy subjects were enrolled into two groups: Group 1 comprised nine subjects exposed to climate conditions of Antarctica for a short period (four days), and Group 2 comprised 10 subjects who spent 30 days under the same conditions. Skin physiological parameters, namely transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration, and erythema and melanin indices, were evaluated non-invasively at two locations–the cheek and volar forearm. In vivo skin carotenoid levels were assessed using a non-invasive, reflectance spectroscopy-based device.


Facial skin displayed increased TEWL, erythema and melanin levels, while no such difference between groups could be disclosed for volar forearm skin. In addition, no significant differences were observed for hydration and skin carotenoid levels.


We disclose differences in skin physiology between the two groups, mainly affecting environment-exposed facial skin. Prolonged contact to exposome factors resulted in epidermal barrier impairment and an inflammatory response, while the increased melanin content may be a defensive mechanism of adaptation.