Saran Wrap: A Dermatologist’s Best Friend?

Would you be surprised to learn that the very same Saran Wrap you use to seal leftovers at home can also be a powerful healing tool in the hands of a trained dermatologist? Dermatologists have discovered that non-permeable plastic films, such as Saran Wrap, can play an important role in treating several common skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and chronic hand dermatitis.

A woman wrapping her leg with plastic wrapperThese conditions are normally treated by the application of creams, ointments or gels, also known as topical therapy, that are absorbed through the skin. “One of the drawbacks to these treatments is that they may not be fully absorbed or can get rubbed off before getting into the skin,” explains Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and skin care expert in Austin, Texas.

However, dermatologists have found that by simply covering the treated area in Saran Wrap — in a procedure known as occlusion therapy — after applying topical treatments that both the absorption rate and the amount of active ingredients absorbed could be greatly increased.

“Topical occlusion also helps prevent medications from being absorbed by traditional, gauze and porous bandages,” says Dr. Kellie Reed, board certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology. Also, since it works as a non-permeable moisture barrier, it prevents active ingredients from evaporating and keeps them trapped on the skin. “The plastic wrap also traps heat, which increases the rate of skin absorption of the active ingredients in the topical preparations.”

Occlusion therapy  is a proven way to greatly increase the effectiveness of topical skin treatments. However, as this technique can greatly magnify the absorption of topical medications, it should only be used under the direct supervision of a dermatologist.

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