Scientists have known for a long time the importance of blood flow on skin health. Conditions such as PAD (peripheral artery disease), PVD (peripheral vein disease) and even the thin skin that commonly develops with age all lack blood flow. Skin that becomes thin due to these conditions and others as well injures faster and heals slower.
Loss of blood flow to the skin might seem dependent on internal factors such as disease or factors that surround aging. Research has determined an external factor plays a role as well. It is dry skin, a condition called xerosis.
When skin dries out, its structure breaks down. This break down leads to a loss of microvessels. With fewer or without microvessels, the skin further thins out lacking essential nutrients, moisture and lipids.
This article will look at the importance of microvessels, what researchers discovered about how these affected blood flow and wound healing, and the vital importance of blood to keep skin healthy, thick and firm and younger-looking.
What are Microvessels?
To nourish the dermis of the skin, capillaries become even smaller blood vessels called microvessels. These tiny little vessels deliver the nutrients needed to support the lower layers of the skin that give it body. They also supply the nutrients needed to keep skin cells moving through the natural process of replenishment.
The body’s natural healing process for skin wounds includes the building of microvessels. However, in individuals who suffer from slow healing wounds, fewer of these tiny blood vessels are present due to the thin skin that lacks structure. This slows nutrient delivery, limits immune response to prevent infection, and makes healing from even the smallest wound a problem. In cases like these, medical professionals often turn to barrier creams.
What is a barrier cream?
A barrier cream creates a seal on the skin. Effectively, it does what the skin is designed to do, but can’t due to the wound and other potential medical or health conditions. It keeps moisture in and germs out. This allows the skin to go through its natural healing process.
A major element of the healing process involves the creation of microvessels. In order for the skin to rebuild, it must deliver the necessary nutrients and immune cells to the wound. The moisture and skin lipids (skin oils) preserved by the barrier cream enable the skin to maintain a structure for microvessel formation.
What Harvard and Boston University Researchers Discovered
Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Boston University set out to develop a better barrier cream. They wanted it to speed wound healing by supporting the body’s natural wound healing response through the faster creation of microvessels.
They developed one barrier cream that worked better than the rest. Regular application of the cream created a measurable improvement in blood flow to the treated skin. Wounds healed faster too.
Their research prompted further studies into the importance of lipids to skin health. Many of the studies have found lipid depletion or lipid imbalance represents a single unifying factor in skin irritation and the breakdown, weakening and thinning of skin. The research has determined lipids are the way skin retains moisture, prevents infection and maintains a constant supply of blood flow through microvessels.
Today, researchers include aging skin as a condition linked to lipid depletion. Lipids, specifically ceramides, naturally decrease with age. As they do moisture escapes, the skin breaks down and microvessels disappear. Research and clinical trials suggest the restoration of lipids enables the skin to heal naturally.
These results have led the American Academy of Dermatology to state:
“Skin does not have to look or feel old.”
Based on Cooperlabs own clinical trial and customer experience, we agree.
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