Possible Causes of Skin Problems

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Infections, including fungal (ringworm), parasite (scabies), viral (warts), bacterial (abscess)

Allergies (e.g., to foods, chemicals, cosmetics, detergents) Drug reactions

Systemic disease (systemic lupus erythematosus, hypothyroidism)

Excessive sun exposure

Precancerous or cancerous lesions

Hormonal imbalances (onset of puberty, premenstrual acne)

Insect bites

Vitamin or nutrient deficiencies alcohol, hot beverages, and spicy foods. Eliminating refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, dairy products, and fried foods may also be helpful.


Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a polypeptide chain of disaccharide units consisting of sodium acetyl glucosamine and sodium glucuronate. HA has a structural role in connective tissue as it is a component of the extracellular matrix and can be found predominately in skinjoints, and eyes. Hydrated matrices rich in hyaluronan expand the extracellular space, facilitating cell migration and wound healing. The viscoelastic properties of hyaluronan are also important for proper function of joints and cartilage. A study examined the effect of topical HA on experimentally induced wounds in hamsters. The results showed that wound size decreased almost twice as fast with HA compared with the control group and was believed to be due to HA favoring tissue hydration, which has a well-established beneficial effect on wound healing.40 Additionally, HA protects granulation tissue from oxygen free-radical damage stimulating wound healing.41


Numerous antioxidant preparations have been shown to benefit skin complaints. Antioxidants have the ability to quench damage-causing free radicals that lead to many skin problems. Studies using animal models have demonstrated that delayed wound healing in aged rats is related to low levels of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and glutathione, accompanied by elevated levels of markers of free-radical damage. Also, this study showed that in diabetic rats, decreased glutathione levels may have a contributory role in delaying the healing process.42

Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant action, photo-protective properties, and activity in the collagen biosynthetic pathway. Topical applications of vitamin C as a 3% ascorbic acid emulsion over 12 weeks was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress in the skin, improve the epidermal-dermal microstructure, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles in aged skin.43 Another study showed that a 5% ascorbic acid cream applied to the face in women with sun-induced photo damage showed positive results. The research found significant increase in the density of skin, decrease of the deep furrows, and evidence of elastic tissue repair.44

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin often used for its potent antioxidant activity. Studies have shown that a combination of vitamin E and vitamin C synergistically can suppress the inflammation reaction from solar simulated radiation.45 Another study showed that vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol reduced plasma malondialdehyde levels, increased glutathione peroxidase activity, and accelerated the rate of wound closure in rats.46

Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and its enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, is important in proper skin health and prevention of DNA damage in cells. Studies have shown that mice treated with esterified glutathione prior to ultraviolet-B exposure had increased cutaneous glutathione levels and decreased numbers of sunburned cells.47 In a small study, a combination product of reduced glutathione and anthocyanins was shown to decrease radiation-induced dermatitis in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, allowing for more consistent treatment.48

Curcumin, (Curcuma longa) is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agent. Studies indicate that topical curcumin improves wound healing. In one study, wounds treated with topical curcumin were found to heal much faster as indicated by improved rates of cellular proliferation, wound contraction, and increased tensile strength. Also, there was a decrease in the levels of lipid peroxides, with significantly increased activity of superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Better maturation and cross-linking of collagen was demonstrated by increased stability of acid-soluble collagen, aldehyde content, shrinkage temperature, and tensile strength in the rats treated with curcumin.49

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is both water and fat soluble and is a powerful free-radical scavenger preventing oxidative damage. Also, it is important as it can regenerate endogenous antioxidants including vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione. Topical treatment with ALA has been shown to increase collagen synthesis in the skin in animal models.50 Additionally, in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled human study, a cream containing 5% ALA over 12 weeks showed significant improvement in clinical characteristics related to photoaging of facial skin.51

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