The skin is composed of two main layers. The thin outer layer, or epidermis, is a type of tissue known as stratified squamous epithelium which consists of plate-like cells. This is the skin that wrinkles. Beneath this lies a deeper layer known as the dermis. The dermis comprises of fibrous and elastic tissue contains blood vessels, nerve fibres, hair follicles and sweat glands. The deep layer of the dermis anchors the skin to underlying tissues. The subcutaneous layer is adipose tissue which help give the skin a plump look.
During youth the epidermis stretches and holds large amounts of moisture due to the high content of fibers, elastin and protein collagen.
Over time the dermis loses collagen and elastin causing the skin to become less elastic and stretchy and becomes thick. The dermis then begins to have difficulty moving adequate amounts of moisture up to the epidermis.
Our Skin Health and help for Eczema
Believe it or not, our skin is the body’s largest organ. It doesn’t simply serve as a protective defense between your insides and the rest of the world, but also helps regulate body temperature and acts as a filter. Skin exists in a constant state of growth, with old cells dying as new cells are forming. It’s affected by every aspect of our lives, from what we eat to where we live. Healthy skin is better able to fight signs of aging, heals much faster and staves off potential disease better than unhealthy skin.
Imagine the skin like a slightly flat cream cake with three main layers sandwiched together and lots of thinner ones within them. Our skin is a little bit like that. The main layer is called the epidermis (which are the top part we see and touch), then there is the dermis and below that the subcutaneous fatty layer.
The top layer or epidermis is a light reflecting, translucent covering for the body. It is incredibly thin for something so tough – around 1mm over most of the body, but thinnest on the eyelids (0.05mm) and thickest on the palms of our hands and souls of our feet (1.5mm). It contains no blood vessels and is nourished from capillaries in the top layer of the dermis.
Every single day, our bodies are creating new skin cells in the epidermis and shedding dead cells in a re-production cycle. This helps to keep skin healthy as we grow. To keep the same skin from the day we are born to the day we die would be crazy seeing how much larger we grow in size. As we grow older, skin cell production slows, which is why older peoples skin looks duller and less radiant.
One important group of cells in the skin are called NMF (natural moisturizing factor), which act like magnets for water, attracting it into the corneocytes (top layer of the epidermis) so they swell up, preventing the formation of cracks between them. This is why healthy skin is smooth and shiny. In dry skin the levels of NMF are reduced which cause small cracks to appear in the skin surface. This is why dry skin feel flaky and rough. Good moisturisers contain plant oils, vegetable glycerin and hyaluronic acid which mimic any deficient NMF to help rehydrate the corneocytes, restoring the skin to its smooth, healthy appearance once more.
Badly burned skin causes massive water loss, due to the corneocytes not getting the correct level of NMF, as does dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
This is the middle layer of the skin structure, which is connected to the epidermis by a ‘basement membrane’, a soft, pliable but strong layer of tissue. The dermis is thicker than the epidermis, again varying over the body in the same way as the epidermis does (eg. On the eyelids, souls of feet). The thickness doubles in width between the age of three and seven and again at puberty. The dermis is made up of small bundles of collagen which gives skin its natural bounce, held together with fibres of elastin protein. It is the breakdown of collagen and elastin that causes ageing due to sunlight, stress and other external factors. Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the skin which is essential for skins moisture levels. This is why Hyaluronic acid in moisturisers is a fantastic ingredient as it boosts the skins own natural moisture production.
Hypodermis (subcutaneous layer)
The bottom layer of the skin structure is a cushion of fat filled with blood vessels and nerves. This layer helps to plump up skin, keep you warm, protects bones and acts as an energy reserve in times of famine. It is also responsible for synthesizing vitamin D from the sun, which is vital for healthy bones, teeth and immune system. If this fatty layer expands (due to weight gain), the fibres in the connective tissue are pulled tight, resulting in poor skin quality.
What happens to the skin when you have dry eczema and other skin conditions?
Eczema is a general term for any type of dermatitis but we have created a cream specifically targeting Eczema.
The “itch-scratch cycle” is about as vicious as they come, and anything that induces it knows its full capability to bring almost unbearable discomfort. Eczema is a general term used to describe varying skin conditions that result in inflamed and discoloured patchy skin. Typically the skin is red, dry, inflamed, and occasionally blisters or crusts form on the surface. The term eczema is often times used interchangeably with the term dermatitis, which literally translates to “inflamed skin.”
There are many types of eczema, but the most common type is atopic eczema. Thought to be hereditary and triggered by allergens, atopic eczema is most common in children, but can reappear during adult years. Figuring out what causes it to flare up and treating the symptoms is the best course of action to take for long term maintenance.
The skin is our body’s first line of defence. Take that away and (let’s pretend we won’t just fall apart) we’re exposed to all sorts of nasty pathogens that would certainly make us very sick.
If you have eczema, your skin is most likely producing less fats and oils than it should be, and its ability to retain water is diminished. The space between skin-cells widen since they aren’t plump with moisture. You then begin to lose water from the dermis layer and irritants and bacteria can enter easier. Soap and detergents can worsen eczema, as they strip away the lipids that skin tries to produce in order for it to be healthy, becoming dry, inflamed, and sometimes cracked or blistered.
Symptoms of eczema include:
• Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) on the fingers, hands, and feet
• Scaly, cracked skin
• Dryness, to the point of peeling and flaking
• Cracks in the skin
• Wet, open sores
Knowing your triggers will help you keep your symptoms under control. The most important thing to remember is that eczema is different for everyone. The symptoms you have may not look the same on you as they do on another adult, or on your child. You or your child may experience certain symptoms at particular times of the year and/or on different parts of the body.
Some of the most common eczema triggers:
When your skin gets too dry, it can easily become brittle, scaly, rough, or tight, which can lead to an eczema flare up.
There are everyday products and even natural substances that can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red. These could be products that you use on your body or in your home — hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants. Even some natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables, or meats, can irritate your skin when you touch them.
Emotional stress is known to be associated with eczema, but we are not exactly sure why. Some people’s eczema symptoms get worse when they’re feeling “stressed”. Others may become stressed, just knowing they have eczema, and this can make their skin flare up.
Hot/Cold temps and sweating
Most people with eczema will become itchy, or experience a “prickly heat” sensation when they sweat, or get too hot. This can happen when you exercise, wear too many clothes to bed, or when you quickly move from one extreme temperature to another (cold to hot). During the cold winter months, your skin may also get too dry — leading to irritation and an eczema flare up.
Your eczema can become infected with bacteria or viruses that live in the environment. Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”), is one of the most common types. The molluscum virus, herpes virus (fever blisters and cold sores), and certain kinds of fungus (ringworm or athlete’s foot) are other common triggers for infection. It’s important to know the symptoms of these different infections and what causes them, so that your eczema does not get worse.
There are everyday materials in the environment that can cause you to have an allergic reaction and trigger an eczema (or AD) flare up. Some of the most common are: seasonal pollen, dust mites, pet dander from cats and dogs, mold and dandruff. Allergens that cause symptoms to stick around a lot longer, or to come back, are much harder to pinpoint. It’s important to know the allergens that could cause a flare up, so that you can help keep your rash under control.
Hormones are substances produced by the body that can cause a wide variety of symptoms. When the levels of certain hormones in your body increase or decrease, some people with eczema (especially women) may experience flare ups.
Foods that trigger Eczema
Dairy – Avoid dairy including milk, cheese, yogurt, and whey from all grazing animals, although you may find you can tolerate goat or sheep’s milk products better than cow’s milk derived products.
Gluten – Wheat, barley, rye, einkorn, farro, kamut, and spelt are gluten based grains. Gluten free whole grain substitutes you should try are quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, buckwheat and sorghum.
Eggs – Chicken eggs are a big eczema trigger for many people. In some cases quail, goose, and duck eggs can be tolerated, but it’s best to avoid all eggs at first.
Acidic Foods – Acidic foods that you should stay away from include processed foods and packaged ready meals, red meat, high fat foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, sweeteners and salt.
Soy – Tofu, soy milk, seitan, miso, tempeh, edamame are some examples of products containing soy. But beware, hidden soy can be found in so many processed foods on the shelf.
Any skin condition is directly affected by the gut, so eating a balanced, healthy diet is key to healthy skin. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish, seeds and nuts and cut down on processed, high fat products including all items listed above.
Upon facial movement, facial muscles and dermal cells repeatedly contract resulting in the appearance of line and wrinkles on the skins surface.
Wrinkles are more or less an inevitable fact of life. Based on genetics, the environment and level of skin care, everyone gets wrinkles at some point in their lives. There’s no specific age when wrinkles set in – in fact, some people begin to get the kind of wrinkles in the corners of the eyes (called “crow’s feet”) as early as 30.
The epidermis starts to sag, and wrinkles form. People who moisturize regularly or whose skin produces larger quantities of sebum will not suffer from wrinkles until a later age.
Mechanical lines and wrinkles
Another type of wrinkles exists, called the mechanical line. These types of wrinkles are formed when the face goes through repetitive types of motions. Squinting can cause crow’s feet. Smiling or frowning can cause laugh lines or a frown line in the forehead.
These types of wrinkles are sometimes treated with BOTOX® injections. The serum paralyzes the muscles that have contracted to form the wrinkle. But BOTOX® is only approved by the FDA for injection into extremely limited areas of the face.
The anti wrinkle ingredient Argireline or acetyl hexapeptide-3 also works to relax the facial muscles that cause these types of wrinkles.
Argireline® also works as an anti-aging skin care and wrinkle treatment because it can stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which in turn reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The loss of elastin and collagen in skin is unfortunately a natural part of the aging process, but with anti-aging skin care ingredients like Argireline®, you can slow down the rate of depletion, resulting in healthier, younger looking skin over a longer period of time.