Our skin protects us from various forms of physical damage, variations in temperature, radiation, and harmful microorganisms, but its capacity for protection has its limitations.
Moreover, the skin has various functions as a sensory organ, in the regulation of fluid and salts, as a depot for fat and sodium, in the production of certain hormones and pheromones, and last but not least, the skin is important in our relations with other people where having an attractive skin means a lot to our mental well-being.
The skin is divided into three primary layers: The epidermis has a thickness of approx. 0.1 mm. In some places it can be thicker. It can be divided into more layers of cells. The outermost layer is called the horny layer and the most profound layer is the basal layer. New skin cells are produced in the basal layer of the epidermis and from here they force their way up and change structurally until they end up on top as dead horn cells. The skin's pigment cells are also produced in the basal layer and they determine what colour your skin will be.
Under the epidermis is the dermis. It consists of firm connective tissue and has the thickness of approx. 1 mm. However, in the palm of the hand and under the foot it can be quite thicker. In this layer, the blood- and lymphatic vessels, nerves, sweat- and sebaceous glands are located. Farthest below, at the transition to the subcutis, our hairs begin.
The subcutis consists of firm and loose connective tissues. The thickness varies from a few millimetres to several centimetres according to the amount of subcutaneous fat. The subcutis also contains blood vessels and nerves.
Wounds can be subdivided into acute tissue damage like e.g. cuts, open wounds, cauterizations, and abrasions etc. or tissue damage resulting from chronic disease processes like e.g. leg sores caused by reduced blood flow to the legs or an ulcer caused by a bacterial infection.
Occur after violent heat affections of the skin where the damage continues after the burning and the skin loses several of its protective functions. Large burns can be life threatening and require hospitalization. Burns to the skin can be subdivided into:
- First degree burns: The skin is red and in pain. This can typically be observed after scalding.
- Second degree burns: In this case the burn has reached deeper into the skin and fluid-filled blisters occur. This is very painful.
- Third degree burns: Here the skin is entirely destroyed and charred. It is not necessarily painful as the sensory nerves of the skin is destroyed.
Is produced when the deeper layers of the skin is healing.
Stong acids and bases both have caustic effects if they come into contact with the skin.
Is caused by damaged blood vessels where the blood has come out into the surrounding tissue under the skin, e.g. as a result of being hit or falling. After some time the blood dissolves and the dark colour disappears. Some people are more easily bruised than others. This can be caused by a lack of bioflavonoids and vitamin K. Together with vitamin C, bioflavonoids help keep the blood vessels strong and flexible.
Chapped lips can be caused by dry skin or freezing temperatures. It can also be caused by the lack of certain vitamins and minerals. Finally, it can be caused by infection, most often fungal infection. Fungal infection of the mouth can be seen as white deposits on the tongue and throat and is most often seen in people with compromised immune systems and people undergoing steroid treatment. In older people with thin skin, it can be caused by a general lack of vitamin B and possibly of iron. If they have poorly fitted dentures or other problems with their bite, spit can drip onto the corners of the mouth and give fungus the perfect environment to grow. This can lead to small cuts in the corners of the mouth which burn. Also see Candidiasis .
RecommendationsGeneral advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for healthy as well as for ill ones" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".
Avoid stress and tobacco smoke. They are two important factors which can inhiit the healing of wounds and scar tissue.
Make sure that the wound is clean. By doing this, infection can be avoided. Uncomplicated wounds can be washed in soap water made by soft soap. In more severe cases of contamination, it should be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide.
Healthy food without too much unhealthy fat is a prerequisite for a fast healing of wounds. Moreover, healing requires that the tissue in the damaged area has a sufficient blood supply. Proteins, zinc, and vitamin C and -E are particularly important nutrients in relation to wound healing.
Moreover, you can use:
- Arginine: Promotes wound healing.
- Glycine: Promotes wound healing.
- The amino acid complex BCAA: Beneficial for the body when it is forming new tissue.
- Horsetail, Equisetum arvense: Has a constrictive, antiseptic, and generally haemostatic effect.
- Chamomile, Chamomilla recutita: Has a general wound healing effect.
- Honey, externally: Destroys bacteria by drying them out. Moreover, it contains enzymes that transform glucose and oxygen into hydrogen peroxide which kills off microorganisms.
The most widely used homeopathic remedy for wound healing is called Arnica D6. It is taken usually 3 times a day under the tongue between meals.
Is treated acutely with lots of cold water. The healing can be accelerated with gaze impregnated with honey. The honey that works best for this purpose is organic, non-heated honey. This method is also said to be able to reduce the formation of scar tissue.
The blood content of vitamin C is significantly reduced in case of a burn. A supplement of vitamin C promotes wound healing, counteracts infection, and reduces pain if the treatment is started at an early stage.
Healing of scar tissue is often of very long duration.
Externally: Vitamin E capsules can be punctured with a needle and the oil can be squeezed out and rubbed onto the skin over the scar tissue until it is completely dry. This can be done 1 - 2 times a day. Internally: Take 400 I.U. of vitamin E daily.
Can be used for healing of scar tissue. Take 2 g. in the morning and in the evening.
Into the scar tissue and the discoloured skin, the homeopathic preparation of Mucor racemosus D6 can be rubbed into the skin 1 - 2 times a day. This can be combined with vitamin E - however, not simultaneously. Use vitamin E in the morning and Mucor in the evening.
Remove any clothes which have become wet by the caustic liquid.
In case of damages to the skin from basic fluids, the cauterized skin should be with poured over with pure water and then a mild acid like vinegar.
In case of damages to the skin from acids, the cauterized skin should first and foremost be poured over with lots of water.
Also in case of cauterizations, a quick intervention is of great importance.
Digestive enzymes like pepsin, pancreatin, bromelain, papain, etc. - i.e. both animal and vegetable ones - are well-suited for promoting the healing of bruises and therefore also a black eye. Start as soon as possible after the damage is done and continue until the mark has disappeared. Take 3 tablets 3 times a day on an empty stomach, i.e. between meals.
If you are one of those who bruise easily, you can take a therapeutic supplement of vitamin K of 5 - 10 mg. a day for 6 - 8 weeks to see if the problem disappears on this account. If that is the case, you should choose a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement containing vitamin K.
Avoid using soap which dries up the skin on the face and use lip balm. If fungus is present: See Candidiasis.
- A vitamin: Important for skin and mucous membranes.
- B2 vitamin (riboflavin) with food. Do not take alone, but as part of a vitamin complex.
- Zinc: Advances wound healing. Normally found in multivitamin-mineral supplements, but an extra supplement can be taken at bedtime.
- Iron: Anaemia and iron deficiency can also cause chapped lips. Iron is best taken as an herbal supplement or as aminochelated iron.
- Essential fatty acids: Important for both the immune system and for avoiding dry skin.
- Salve: Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
WarningsSerious wounds should be attended to by a doctor as soon as possible.
People who take blood diluting medicin should not take large doses of vitamin K without consulting a doctor.
Honey should not be given to babies as it can contain bacterial spores from the botulinum bacterium. However, honey is perfectly harmless for older children and adults.