The differences between pre- and postmenopausal women and men on corneocyte surface area were investigated by a noninvasive exfoliation method. Surface corneocytes were collected with a modified detergent scrub technique. Separated corneocytes were analyzed by videomicroscopy and image analyses (NIH ImageTM 1.59). Additionally transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and stratum corneum hydration, water-holding capacity and moisture accumulation velocity were measured. 21 postmenopausal females without hormonal substitution (age 50.6 years), 33 premenopausal women (age 41.0 years) and 25 men matched for age (age 44.0 years) were included in this study. The smallest corneocyte surface area was seen in premenopausal women (368.0 pixels). For postmenopausal women and the male control population almost equal values could be detected (postmenopausal women 401.1 pixels; men 401.8 pixels). Significant differences were calculated with the ANOVA test (p = 0.0050) and post-hoc analyses (Dunn test); premenopausal vs. postmenopausal women (p < 0.05) and premenopausal women vs. men (p < 0.05), but not postmenopausal women vs. men (p > 0.05). No statistically significant differences could be detected for TEWL, stratum corneum hydration parameters. No correlation could be found between the corneocyte surface area and barrier or hydration parameters. The detected differences support the hypothesis that sexual hormones have an impact on corneocyte surface area, because sex hormone levels are higher in premenopausal women than in non-hormone-substituted postmenopausal women or men.

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