How does my skin heal itself?
Your skin is your largest organ, for the average adult it stretches across roughly 2 square meters! Resistant and waterproof, it forms a barrier against aggressive external factors. However, its defense system is compromised when you're injured, cut, or burnt. And your entire body is subsequently affected. Fortunately, your skin has the ability to regenerate itself, so as to repair your protective barrier and prevent further harm to your bodies. This is what happens during wound and scar healing –
1. If the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) is hurt, the skin quickly repairs itself, as your surface cells are continually renewed. If the dermis, home to your blood vessels and nerves, is damaged, the recovery process can take a lot longer.
2. Your blood vessels contract and clots are formed. This limits bleeding and prevents bacteria from penetrating your skin.
3. Your skin reddens, due to inflammation. White blood cells are activated to destroy any bacteria that have managed enter into your bodies.
4. 2/3 days later, collagen production kicks in to replace the skin tissue over the injured area.
5. Finally, your epidermal cells divide to create a new outer layer and close up the wound. This last step can take up to a year!
Whenever your skin has a wound, carefully clean any wounds with water, soap and an antiseptic as quickly as possible, so as to avoid bacterial growth. Apply a non-adhesive, waterproof dressing, which should be left on for 48 hours. This boosts cell renewal and prevents the skin from drying out. A collagen or hyaluronic acid-based healing cream can help speed up the process. The aim? Contrary to popular belief, wounds heal better in moist environments. Do not tug at or scratch away the scabs and scars while your skin is still healing, this will only lengthen the skin’s repairing process and can also leave behind scars.