How does my skin heal itself?

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How do I heal scars and wounds on my skin?

Our skin is more than just our outer layer. It's our protective sheath and things can awry if it's damaged in any way. And wound or scar healing is a time when our skin goes into full self-defense mode.

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The skin, our bodies protective shell

Our skin is our largest organ: for the average adult it stretches across roughly 2 square metres! Resistant and waterproof, it forms a barrier against aggressive external factors. However, its defence system is compromised when we're injured, cut or burnt. And our entire body is subsequently affected. Fortunately, our skin has the ability to regenerate itself, so as to repair our protective barrier and prevent further harm to our bodies. This is what happens during wound and scar healing.

Different types of wounds and scarring

If the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) is hurt, the skin quickly repairs itself, as our surface cells are continually renewed. If the dermis, home to our blood vessels and nerves, is damaged, the recovery process can take a lot longer:
- our blood vessels contract and clots are formed. This limits bleeding and prevents bacteria from penetrating our skin.
- our skin reddens, due to inflammation. White blood cells are activated to destroy any bacteria that have managed enter into our bodies.
- 2/3 days later, collagen production kicks in to replace the skin tissue over the injured area.
- finally, our epidermal cells divide to create a new outer layer and close up the wound. This last step can take up to a year!

How to boost wound and scar healing

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. The aim? Contrary to popular belief, wounds heal better in moist environments. This boosts cell renewaland prevents the skin from drying out. A collagen or hyaluronic acid-based healing cream can help speed up the process.