What is skin inflammation, and what does it do? Skin inflammation greatly contributed to Cassandra’s acne, but she didn’t realize what inflammation was actually doing to her skin.
What does inflammation do?
The inflammation pathway is actually good. It’s part of a healing process, and Cassandra had to learn this to understand her skin, and likewise, create an effective skincare routine. If you are someone who struggles with blemishes or redness, this may be a sign that your skin struggles with inflammation. However, even if your skin is sensitive, you need the process of inflammation to heal.
Inflammation is not always a bad thing. Inflammation is part of the body’s healing process. Our wounds, blemishes, and even our broken bones would not heal at all without it.
Coverphoto cred: MountainView Hospital
How does inflammation happen?
The first thing that happens when you pop a pimple or get a wound is vasoconstriction. Basically, this means that the blood, and the tiny little capillaries start constricting and platelet aggregation happens. Platelets are in our blood, and they basically clump and coagulate together to create a scab so that we don’t bleed out. That’s why if someone is on blood thinners, they’re actually in danger of bleeding out, which is why aggregation, coagulation, and forming a little scab is a great thing.
After a wound, there's also leukocyte migration. This is when white blood cells rush to the area and begin the healing process. This is why inflammation is a good thing. It is part of the process of healing, and in specific, controlled, and in-clinic situations, it can have cosmetic benefits.
Photcred: Biology Dictionary
How do chemical peels build collagen?
For example, have you ever thought about medical microneedling or lasers? You’re shoving needles into the skin, or you’re shooting lasers at the skin. If you’re doing a chemical peel, you are burning skin with a chemical. Well, why would we do these things? The reason why is because it stimulates inflammation Inflammation can actually be helpful because it starts the process of healing, building new skin, new collagen and elastin, and that’s why even though inflammation has a bad reputation, it’s actually a process that can be beneficial.
Inflammation also fights infection. When you pop a pimple, blood cells come to the area to fight off any bacteria, viruses, or dirt that you had in your fingernail. Afterwards, other cells like neutrophils and macrophages start to get recruited.
Macrophages are amazing because they do what’s called phagocytosis. This is when they eat and destroy other cells. They clean out damaged cells and help other areas of the body make new and better ones. After a few days or weeks have passed, we started getting into what everyone loves, the cosmetic benefits.
Specifically, this process can encourage collagen proliferation, which is when your skin starts building new collagen or elastin. Your fibroblast cells start secreting elastin and hyaluronic acid to help heal and rebuild the skin stronger.
This is why people get treatments like medical microneedling, laser therapy, skin treatments, and chemical peels. The purpose of these treatments is to stimulate inflammation by causing this damage to the skin just so it can rebuild. Finally, new tissue is formed and angiogenesis happens which basically means little blood vessels or tiny capillaries are rebuilt, bringing nutrients and enhanced blood circulation. After about a month or two when the collagen and elastin have truly rebuilt and the structure has been restored, the skin gets to remodel. This is called epithelialization when the skin makes itself better.
So, while supplements such as collagen are popular, it may be more effective to seek treatment for collagen rebuilding and to encourage the skin's natural process of creating it. Many collagen supplements lack quality, absorption, and efficacy.
How does chronic inflammation impact the skin?
Thus, this process is absolutely integral to making sure that our skin is healthy and happy. While not all inflammation is bad, there are certain things such as chronic inflammation that can be very bad for our skin or body.
For instance, if we are chronically exposed to UV damage from the sun, and it’s causing inflammation, that can destroy the skin and cause a lot of damage that never has a chance to re-heal.
Moreover, if the skin is constantly being picked at or popped, debris and bacteria is penetrating and prevents your skin from healing. Cassandra has been there, and these types of things absolutely contribute to long-term inflammation. So, use a pimple patch, find targeted actives that help with inflammation, and wear your SPF!
Coverphoto cred: BeBeautiful