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Understanding Inflammation: The Root Cause of Skin Aging

By: Rhonda Allison
Posted: April 1, 2014, from the April 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Understanding Inflammation: The Root Cause of Skin Aging

Centella asiatica

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When inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it damages the body and thus, the skin. Chronic inflammation is when the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues.1 Prolonged inflammation has been linked as a major underlying factor in most of the challenges that plague the skin. In fact, according to an article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, “chronic inflammation appears strongly linked to many preventable and treatable skin diseases and conditions, such as visible skin aging.”2

The correlation between chronic inflammation, and cutaneous and systemic diseases was suggested decades ago by scientists Albert Kligman, MD, and Robert Lavker, PhD, and has since been scientifically accepted.3 Aging, hyperpigmentation, rosacea and eczema, to name a few, can also be traced to chronic inflammation. In the body, inflammation has been linked as the root cause of atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.4

Inflammation: the good and the bad

There are five principal signs of inflammation—pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function—all of which are essential to regenerating the skin. When the skin barrier is disrupted during the inflammation stage, platelets release pro-youth growth factors and other pro-inflammatory molecules to heal, rebuild and renew the area.

Certain esthetic treatments trigger this acute inflammatory response. For example, when performing a skin peel, the first sign of wounding is an inflammatory response. This controlled, short-term response initiates the rejuvenation process and can help restore skin to optimum health. It’s critical, however, to replenish the skin with skin-building antioxidants and growth factors.

Inflammation only becomes problematic when it is chronic. When it is a constant part of your physiology, serious issues may occur, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, hypersensitivities, autoimmune disease and chronic acne.