You repeatedly hear medical advice about breaking the cycle of inflammation. . . .stopping inflammation. . . .getting inflammation under control. . . .and so on. You know all too well that inflammation plays a vital role in the process of aging and how the associated changes take place in the skin.
But just how much do you understand about the inflammation cycle? Are you aware of the role it plays in both wound healing and chronic problems and negative changes?
We’re going to break down the steps of the inflammatory cycle and detail what that process means to your skin. We’ll also touch on a few ways that you can help to control inflammation in your skin.
While over 35 million Americans are affected by inflammatory skin conditions, the process is complex and is not completely understood.
Skin inflammation can be characterized as either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation can result from exposure to something damaging like UV radiation, allergens, or contact with chemical irritants like soaps or hair dyes. It can also be the direct result of a wound. Typically, there is little tissue destruction as a direct result of the inflammation. Chronic inflammation results from a sustained cellular response within the skin itself and can cause significant and serious tissue destruction.
Basic Steps in the Inflammatory Process
- Exposure to stimulus. This can be UV radiation or something like fragrance molecules or harsh chemicals.
- Skin’s cells produce inflammatory hormones. These cytokines and chemokines attach themselves to specific cells to stimulate production of additional inflammatory signaling proteins.
- Some of these cause vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), so that more blood can flow to the injured tissue, some activate nerve cells to trigger pain or cause immune cells to migrate into the skin by causing the blood vessels to become more permeable. More blood and tissue fluid in the area results in swelling.
- These immune cells produce more inflammatory proteins, enzymes, free radicals, and chemicals. These chemicals can cause damage to the skin.
Basically, when the skin senses an “insult,” it launches a complex campaign to bring an army in to surround the invader and destroy it.
Is Inflammation Good?
Inflammation is actually a very helpful response when there really is a threat to your health. Think about the time you had that little splinter and didn’t even know it until a day later, when the area caught your attention because there was pain and swelling. You had to think back to the time yesterday morning when you leaned up against your friend’s railing and thought to yourself, ‘this deck needs a new paint job.’
The body detected the foreign invader, even before you did. It launched the immune response to surround the splinter, effectively walling it off so that none of the bacteria that it brought in with it would be able to travel any further into the body. White blood cells brought in by the droves through the dilated blood vessels were doing their best to try to eat up the wood and bacteria, creating purulent discharge (pus) and swelling. If you hadn’t dug that splinter out when you noticed the inflammation, the body would have forced it out on its own.
Your body protected you from the foreign invader, and kept any of the possibly harmful bacteria it carried with it from causing damage anywhere else.
Inflammation may just have saved your life.
While most people don’t die from splinters, I hope you understand the point.
What Happens When Inflammation Goes Rogue?
Inflamed skin is irritated skin. It can appear in various ways including itching, burning, and discoloration of the skin. Inflammatory skin diseases are the most common dermatology problems. They range from occasional rashes with mild itchiness, to conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea.
The difference between acute and chronic inflammation is only a matter of timing. Acute inflammation usually lasts six weeks or less and can result from things like acne, sunburn, or allergic reaction.
According to Medical News Today, chronic inflammation refers to long-term inflammation and can last several months to years. It can be the result of:
- Failure to eliminate whatever was causing the acute (initial) inflammation
- An autoimmune disorder that attacks normal healthy tissue, mistaking it for a pathogen that causes disease
- Exposure to a low level of a particular irritant, such as an industrial chemical, over a long period
You typically see it in cases of eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
How to Help Inflammation
There are plenty of treatment options available. Talk to your dermatologist about the best route to take for your condition. Topical creams can prove to be effective, as can oral medications or light therapy, depending on where your inflammation is originating, its severity, and how long it’s been going on.
The potent anti-inflammatory properties of sciadonic acid (SCA) from Mountain cypress seeds have been harnessed into a topical formulation we call Delta-5TM. It is a powerfully effective fatty acid with a unique mechanism of action when incorporated into specific phospholipid pools. It displaces pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (ARA), stopping the inflammatory cascade early in the biochemical process.
DELTA-5™ oils have been processed into the highest level of SCA commercially available, which is then formulated into a high-grade, stable cosmetic oil. It has a longer shelf life than most oils. Its bioactive mechanism uniquely delivers more than just skin barrier protection, showing relief from dry, itchy, irritated, or wrinkled skin.
Use it twice a day directly on affected areas, or mix it with your routine skin care products to amplify the anti-inflammatory punch.