Cocoa butter to treat dry skin


eMediNexus    18 June 2018

Eczema is the commonest dermatosis in pregnancy. About 20-40% of patients seem to have a pre-existing history of eczema while the remaining develop symptoms for the first time during pregnancy.1 Atopic eczema accounts for a significant proportion of itchy dermatoses in pregnancy.2 Restoring barrier function is important for the management of eczema and reduces the need for specific therapy.2

Cocoa butter has been recognized by the FDA for having skin protective properties.3 Cocoa has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activities that have a potential role in the maintenance of skin health.4 Cocoa butter is an excellent emollient and an effective moisturizer and skin softener.5 Cocoa and cocoa products are rich sources of phytocompounds that have nutritional and therapeutic significance.4 Cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants - it contains large concentrations of flavonoids, epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins.6 Cocoa butter contains significant amounts of fatty acids. Cocoa butter is a mixture of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Cocoa butter is commonly used in skin moisturizers. Cocoa flavanols have been shown to have a role in protecting skin from damage from UV light. This action seems to be mediated through factors, such as generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammatory markers such as prostagladins, nitric oxide (NO), leukotrienes, and histamine.7 Cocoa polyphenols positively affect skin structure. Cocoa polyphenols exhibit a positive action on parameters such as glycosaminoglycans and collagens I, III, and IV, associated with skin tone and elasticity.8 Owing to its high fatty acid content, cocoa butter can easily penetrate deep-down into the skin and hydrate from within. Cocoa butter is naturally rich in Vitamin E and a number of other vitamins and minerals. The vitamin E component helps to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin and provides skin collagen which helps with wrinkles and other signs of ageing.9

Cocoa butter is, therefore, a potential agent that can be used topically to manage dry, itchy skin during pregnancy on account of its soothing, emollient, and hydrating effects.


  1. Weatherhead S, Robson SC, Reynolds NJ. Eczema in pregnancy. BMJ. 2007 Jul 21; 335(7611): 152–154.
  2. Schnopp C, Ring J. Atopic Eczema and Itch in Pregnancy: Therapeutic Considerations. Current Dermatology Reports 2012;1(4):203–8.
  3. Correa MCM, Nebus J. Management of Patients with Atopic Dermatitis: The Role of Emollient Therapy. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012; 2012: 836931.
  4. Scapagnini G, Davinelli S, Di Renzo L, et al. Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health. Nutrients. 2014 Aug; 6(8): 3202–3213.
  5. Duke JA. The Green Pharmacy Anti-Aging Prescriptions: Herbs, Foods, and Natural Formulas to keep You Young Anti-aging prescriptions.
  6. Latif R. Chocolate/cocoa and human health: a review. Available from: http://www.njmonline.nl/getpdf.php?id=1269. Accessed on June 11, 2018.
  7. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15; 15(10): 2779–2811.
  8. Andujar I, Recio MC, Giner RM, Ríos JL. Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2012, Article ID 906252, 23 pages. Available from: http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/files_mf/andujar2012.pdf. Accessed on June 11, 2018.
  9. Leng MS, Njinkoue JM, Ndjouenkeu R. Uses and quality assessment of cocoa butter sold in retail markets in Yaounde capital city, Cameroon. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research 2016;7(11):142-57.

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