How Inflammation Affects The Skin

If you have ever experienced the feeling of skin inflammation, you know that it is usually painful and sometimes unsightly to look at, especially if you have it.  Still, skin inflammation is frequently the result of an immune response to damage to the skin, or sometimes even the threat of damage.

This inflammatory response is actually an important and normal response that initiates healing when the skin has been damaged by trauma.  However, when the inflammation becomes chronic and ongoing, your skin cells remain inflamed and then become shrunken and dehydrated.

The list of causes of skin inflammation is extensive and includes:

  • ultraviolet light
  • stress
  • poor diet
  • environmental pollution
  • lack of sleep
  • chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and COPD
  • genetic predisposition

Although everyone can uniquely react to these causes, skin inflammation can result in a range of skin problems including rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  The skin can also experience sudden traits of generalized aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, and crêpey skin.

As previously noted, inflammation can be beneficial when your body uses it to heal skin wounds and kill bacteria.  This type of process is a temporary or acute inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is much more insidious, and occurs over an extensive period of time.  Initially, chronic inflammation may not be visible on the skin’s surface, and may be smoldering underneath the surface.

The inflammation associated with the aging process and sun damage typically causes gradual but progressive effects on the skin.  Conversely, if we can limit and control inflammation, we can reverse and even prevent some of the signs of aging.

Genetics can also be a significant factor in an individual’s susceptibility to inflammation.  Many people are born with a lower threshold for inflammation, and therefore are labeled as having sensitive skin.

While there is no solution to skin inflammation that works for everyone, there are basic helpful principles that the majority of people can apply.  For example, protecting the skin is a key to reducing the inflammation that cascades the aging process.

For that reason, as you may well know, I recommend sunscreen use for everyone.  At Maine Laser Skin Care, we carry several lines of sunscreen that are excellent for sun protection even for those with sensitive skin.

After assuring proper protection for the skin, it is also important to enhance the skin barriers that prevent toxins from entering the skin from outside.  A good moisturizer will reinforce the skin’s natural defenses, as dry and scaling skin can allow external forces to damage deeper within the skin.

More active treatments for inflammation can include the use of topical products containing antioxidants.  These ingredients can absorb and neutralize the free radicals produced by damaging forces, and prevent and limit the inflammatory effects of aging.  Vitamin C-based topicals are very effective and, as a result, are very soothing to the skin.

Other indirect methods can also help prevent and limit skin inflammation.  Regularly consuming foods including leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and cold water or oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) can greatly diminish inflammation.

Internal hydration by drinking plenty of water and limiting caffeine and alcohol can also boost your inflammatory abilities.  Plus, getting more sleep is a great help, as they don’t call it beauty rest for nothing.

For those who want to limit the effects of aging (and who doesn’t),  using these common sense approaches regularly can help.  The treatments that we perform regularly here at Maine Laser Skin Care can also undo much of the old damage you may already exhibit.

Feel free to call our Augusta office at (207) 873-2158, or our Scarborough office at (207) 303-0125 to schedule your free and confidential consultation with our medical and aesthetic staff.  Our major goal is still to “beautifying Maine one face at a time.”

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