Inflammation: Skin Enemy Number One

Understanding the root of all skin evils (inflammation!) will help you learn how to control it.

| September 29th, 2011
Inflammation: Skin Enemy Number One

It seems that inflammation is a buzzword that’s turning up everywhere these days—the term is being used to describe our diets and the condition is being blamed for ills ranging from arthritis and heart disease to acne and wrinkles.

Turns out, inflammation is not something to take lightly for your health or your beauty.

“Inflammation is a great catchword,” says Amy Wechsler, M.D., YouBeauty Dermatology Advisor. “It is the root of so many issues both internally and on the skin.”

What is inflammation?

In ideal circumstances, inflammation is actually a good thing. It’s the body’s built-in defense system, providing protection from invading bacteria, viruses and injuries. When the body is under assault, it responds by setting in motion an inflammatory process that sends chemicals from the body’s white blood cells to the area at risk.

MORE: Your Skin Type, Decoded

Then, after the infection is licked or the sprained muscle healed, the inflammation is supposed to go away. But sometimes the system gets out of whack, leading to chronic, low levels of inflammation that linger anywhere in the body—within your blood vessels, joints or organs. That can put you at risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and even some cancers.

And when the inflammation is in the skin, which is the body’s largest organ, it can affect not only your health, but also your looks. 

Where’s it coming from?

There is no one culprit when it comes to inflammation—and the cause could be coming from within your body or from external, environmental factors. “Stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy diet, pollution, secondhand smoke, sun exposure—these can all lead to skin inflammation,” says Wechsler.

How inflammation from the inside affects beauty on the outside

The skin is an active organ (not just a barrier between your insides and the outside world) that is affected by stress hormones when under assault. The “stress hormone” cortisol elevates during stress, and in the short-term is actually a good thing—it helps your body handle stress. But if you have chronic, constant stress, cortisol backfires and causes inflammation.

QUIZ: How Stressed Are You?

Smart is sexy - get our newsletter:

Comments on this Article (1) | Leave a Comment

Let's hang out