Our skin is a multi-layered protective device for our body that can both take in nutrients and keep out bacteria. When it is damaged a series of reactions in the body occur to remedy the problem. There are various ways that we can expedite the process through topical, vitamin, and supplemental measures.
How Skin Repair Works
Immediately after an injury, white blood cells rush to the site of the injury, trying to fend off invading microorganisms. It is only when the invaders have been brought under control that the healing process will start. This is why topical medications like Neosporin help the skin to heal. Neosporin expedites the death of the microorganisms which lets the body do what it needs to do to heal. First, a scab is formed to prevent further entry by any more invading microorganisms, and then new skin begins to form when stratum basale cells begin dividing by mitosis. Major injuries have a similar process but are not able to fully restore the skin to its original condition.
Vitamins and Nutrition for Skin
Vitamin A is needed to help bone and epithelial formation, cellular differentiation, and immune function. Vitamin C is needed for collagen formation, immune function, and as an antioxidant of tissue. Vitamin E is one of the most important fat-soluble antioxidants in the skin and is often used in skin lotions. Biotin is a nutrient that helps to form skin, hair, and nails. Niacin can both retain skin moisture and utilize its anti-inflammatory properties to sooth irritated and dry skin. Vitamin K can help blood clot during the skin healing process and has been used in creams for bruises and under-eye circles. Copper is used in developing elastin, the fibers that support skin structure from within. Zinc is used to control acne by stopping oil production, healing skin blemishes.
Extracts, Health, and Salves
Bromelain is an enzyme that can be extracted from pineapples that reduces bruising, edema, pain, and healing time following surgery and trauma. Glucosamine helps to prevent buildups of toxins during the wound healing process. The body requires enough dietary protein for wound healing, as the tissue levels of amino acids glutamine and arginine affect immune function and wound repair. Two topical remedies, centella asiatica and aloe vera, both promote wound healing if used topically or orally. Centella asiatica, which is also known as gotu kola, helps to stimulate the production of collagen and improve the strength of a wound. Collagen is also stimulated by the popular sunburn remedy aloe vera. Since many of these compounds (aside from bromelain, centella asiatica, and aloe vera) are found in many multivitamins, you can ensure that these skin healing compounds are at proper levels in the body.
- Skin Health using vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- Nutritional Support for Wound Healing
- Wound Healing and Ulcers of the Skin: Diagnosis and Therapy - The Practical Approach; Avi Shai and Howard I. Maibach; 2004
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