Epidermal hydration and skin surface lipids in patients with long term complications of sulfur mustard poisoning

Pouran Layegh, Masoud Maleki, Seyed Reza Mousavi, Hadis Yousefzadeh, Akram Momenzadeh, Shiva Golmohammadzadeh, Mahdi Balali-Mood


Background: Despite almost the three decades passed since the chemical attacks of Iraqi’s army against the Iranian troops, some veterans are still suffering from long-term complications of sulfur mustard (SM) poisoning, including certain skin complaints specially dryness, burning, and pruritus. We thus aimed to evaluate the skin’s water and lipid content in patients with a disability of >25% due to complications of SM poisoning and compare them with a matched control group. Materials and Methods: Sixty-nine male participants were included in this study; 43 SM-exposed patients, and 26 normal controls from their close relatives. The water and lipid content was measured in four different locations: Extensor and flexor sides of forearms and lateral and medial sides of legs by the Corneometer CM 820/Sebumeter SM 810. Collected data was analyzed and P ? 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results: The mean age of the patients and controls was 49.53 ± 11.34 (ranges: 40-71) and 29.08 ± 8.836 (ranges: 15-49 years), respectively. In the veterans group, the main cutaneous complaint was itching and skin dryness. Cherry angioma, dry skin, and pruritus were significantly more common in the SM-exposed cases than in the controls. (P = 0.01, 0.05, and 0.04, respectively). The moisture and lipid content of all areas were lower in the SM-exposed group, but it was only significant in skin sebum of lateral sides of legs (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Exposure to SM could decrease the function of stratum corneum and lipid production as a barrier, even after several years of its exposure.

Key words: Epidermal hydration, skin lipid, sulfur mustard, xerosis

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