Does moisturizer REALLY cut dementia risk?

Does moisturizer REALLY cut dementia risk? Study claims healing dry skin reduces chemicals linked to the disease - but that does not mean lotion prevents Alzheimer's, expert warns

  • Alzheimer's experts think inflammation and immune cells called cytokines may contribute to dementia-causing brain damage 
  • The skin is the largest organ in the body and reduces many cytokines when it is inflammed 
  • But older skin doesn't retain enough moisture to let inflammation-reducing cytokines do their job  
  • The result is an excess of the immunity chemicals, which get into the blood and brain 
  • University of California, San Francisco, researchers found that when older people moisturized, they had lower levels of cytokines in their blood 
  • But an Alzheimer's expert cautions that this doesn't (necessarily) mean lotion lowers Alzheimer's risks  

By Natalie Rahhal Deputy Health Editor For

Published: 12:51 EDT, 14 March 2019 | Updated: 14:31 EDT, 14 March 2019

Keeping your skin soft with moisturizer may help keep your brain healthy too, suggests new research linking skin care to reduced risks of Alzheimer's disease. 

Inflammation has become a hot topic in the field of Alzheimer's research in recent years. Scientists now believe that chemicals called cytokines, which are released to repair inflamed areas, may contribute to Alzheimer's. 

As we age, the skin starts to degrade and becomes inflamed. The skin is the largest organ of the body, so even minor skin inflammation attracts high levels of cytokines.  

The skin is the largest organ of the body, so even minor inflammation - in the form of red or dry skin - could generate high levels of the immunity chemicals. 

But moisturizer can help to keep skin strong and repaired even when cytokines can't, helping to reduce inflammation - and perhaps levels of the chemicals that raise Alzheimer's risks, the new University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study suggests.