This Is What Inflammation Really Does to Your Skin

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When you hear the term “inflammation,” you might automatically think of red, swollen skin that’s sensitive to the touch. But did you know inflammation actually starts deep down in the skin and could be the reason why your skin looks older than it really is?

Inflammation is the number-one cause of premature aging from the inside out. While inflammation is a necessary function—and it’s actually healthy—to protect the body against infections and repair it when it’s injured, chronic inflammation is what can cause more harm than good to our skin and bodies. “Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting us from invading bacteria and viruses, and repairing injuries,” says New York dermatologist Adebola Dele-Michael, MD. “Our bodies’ white blood cells release chemicals that promotes inflammation as a way to eliminate bacteria, virus and to heal the body. In some cases, the body’s immune system may become overstimulated or continuously stimulated to produce inflammation.”

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Prospect, KY, dermatologist Tami Cassis, MD, says that when the body is chronically inflamed, it can lead to long-term problems like heart disease, diabetes and even bowel issues like Crohn’s disease.

However, when the skin is constantly living in an inflamed state due to diet, an overload of sugar or other factors, the effects become apparent on the surface of the skin, as well as deep beneath it. “Chronically inflamed skin can lead to rosacea, some types of acne and premature aging including fine lines, wrinkles, psoriasis,” says Dr. Cassis. “When skin is in this nonstop cycle of inflammation, there will eventually be a breakdown of collagen and elastin, which will show fine lines and wrinkles. With rosacea, we see inflammatory papules and pustules with an overall redness to the skin.”

So while inflammation is a necessary component for skin that functions properly, too much of it can actually wreck havoc on your skin and make it take a turn for the worse. 

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