Skin Creams
By: Aliesh D. Pierce

Moisturizers, Humectants and Emollients:

One of the most commonly mis-diagnosed aspects of skin analysis is skin type. When someone has "oily" or "combination" skin there are visible characteristics; the skin seems thicker and may have a heavy sheen
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or enlarged follicles. Acneic skin has visible congestion in the form of papules or pustules. But dehydrated skin is often improperly labeled as being a "dry" skin type. That's because the sweat glands and oil glands are closely connected. Water evaporates from the body to keep skin cool and oil is secreted to seal and protect.

"Full thickness third degree burns and graphed skin sites don't have oil or sweat glands" states Debra Kayden, RN is Outreach Coordinator at UC Davis' Regional Burn Unit in Sacramento, CA. In burn scars, the entire moisturization process is impaired or annihilated. "That's why it's so important to understand the difference between moisturizers and emollients." Kayden suggests, "If you're in a chronic state of dehydration; go for moisture. Intake enough water and limit alcohol and caffeine because they're natural diuretics". She tells patients, "the best process would be to apply a moisturizer and, within 15 minutes, apply an emollient on top".

There are several products that claim to reduce scar tissue. But, regular massage and pressure therapy is more effective than the use of any specific scar cream. It really doesn't matter what you use. "Each individual should find what their body responds to" says Kayden. Burn Survivors should treat the skin four times a day and have a thorough understanding of ingredients.

Petroleum based products are useful in blocking bacteria during the healing process. But, used alone, petroleum jelly, mineral oil and paraffin simply trap natural oils in and block out moisture. They are also known to break down the fibers in pressure garments. Look for products containing large amounts of water and humectants to ease pruritus, itchy skin.

     INGREDIENTS     
     PERFORMANCE     
     EMU OIL     
     An emollient; anti-infammatory,skin penetrating     
     ALCOHOL (ethyl, cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl)     
     Used as a solvent and emulsifier. Can be very drying.     
     LANOLIN OIL     
     An emollient, humectant and sealant; wool wax; from the oil glands of sheep, contains up to 30% water.     
     ALMOND OIL     
     AN EMOLLIENT; EASILY ABSORBED, CALMING      
     JOJOBA OIL     
     AN EMOLLIENT; A BOTANICAL SUBSTITUTE FOR SPERMACETI, NON-ALLERGENIC; CLOSE TO SKIN'S ACTUAL SEBUM     
     COCOA BUTTER     
     AN EMOLLIENT; ABSORBS QUICKLY , HIGH IN ANTI-OXIDANTS.     
     SQUALENE     
     AN EMOLLIENT; DERRIVED FROM OLIVE OIL, CLOSE TO SKIN'S ACTUAL SEBUM     
     HYALURONIC ACID     
     A HUMECTANT; BINDS WITH UP TO 300 X'S IT'S WEIGHT      
     SHEA BUTTER     
     AN EMOLLIENT; HIGH IN VITAMIN E AND A, LINOLEIC ACID AND UV PROTECTION     
     NEEM OIL     
     AN EMOLLIENT; WELL DOCUMENTED IN ANCIENT AYURVEDIC TEXTS AS REGENERATIVE AND RESTRUCTURING; IT IS ANTIBACTERIAL, ANTI-VIRAL, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND FUNGICIDAL.     
     GLYCERIN     
     A HUMECTANT; DRAWS MOISTURE TO THE SERFACE OF THE SKIN     
     LIDOCAINE      
     RELIEVES PAIN WHEN TOPICALLY APPLIED TO PARTIAL THICKNESS BURNS     

HERBS, VITAMINS AND ANTI-OXIDANTS

Many products brag about their use of herbs, vitamins and anti-oxidants. These ingredients are crucial in protecting cells from free radicle damage but they can't always penetrate the skin. They often need to be micronized to pass the stratum corneum or outer layer of the epidermis and may actually be more effective when taken orally. They can be found in several creams and salves or as ingestable teas, tinctures and capsules.

"Healing happens from the inside out, not the other way around" says Dr. Raakhi Mohan who blends Eastern and Western philosophies in her Long Beach, CA practice. "The cells on the surface of our skin are already in the last stages of their development and are ready to be sloughed off. Delivering antioxidants to this layer does nothing for the cells which are just beginning their development. By consuming antioxidants in their natural form, through food, you allow the benefits of these antioxidants to reach all of the body's tissues. In addition, new skin cells are able to access and utilize antioxidants throughout their development."

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