Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Skin Healing and Hormones

One of the reasons I joined the bimoaterials and tissue regeneration lab at my grad university is because I wanted to take part in the research behind wound healing. I have always had a history of being highly susceptible to cuts, bruises, abrasions. You name it, my skin can't handle it.

It does not help that I am also very careless and thus accident-prone. Just a few weeks ago I was digging through these shelves at Michaels and shoved my hand into one of the little bars that shape the shelf. The little circular edge lifted up a good chunk of skin and started bleeding. I had to go get a band-aid and the Michaels' workers were like, "How did you get hurt here?" I am so unique and amazing like that, I just can.

I have had to get stitches twice: once when I slammed my shin into the edge of a concrete fountain and it shoved a whole patch of skin through the dermis and right above the fatty tissue upwards into a wrinkly mass of dermal tissue. I saw some kind of white in the hole and just thought, "That is way too deep. I should NOT be seeing this."

Rushed to the ER at 2 am, got stitches, had to wrap it up for several weeks to heal and now I have this ugly lighter color scar tissue on my left shin. Second time was when I was washing dishes and a cracked cup decided to finish cracking as I was scrubbing it, slicing across my pointer. I washed it, tied a napkin tight around it and proceeded to finish cooking my tikka masala that night. By the end of cooking it still didn't stop bleeding, so I thought, "I don't want to bleed to death. Looks like I gotta ask my friends to drive me to the ER again at night." Off we went to the ER and I got more stitches. I had to wear this large clasp over my finger to keep it from moving and ripping the stitches and healing tissue. The scar still is a little tender.

So, yeah, my skin is not that great a barrier against physical assault. I always wondered what was wrong with my skin. What biologically and chemically was different about my body that made its skin weaker than the normal person?

Opening my homepage today, I saw that they were talking about the "Healing Power" of skin. Intrigued by the relevancy, I read on: skin is remarkable because it heals itself by forming a blood clot then a scab. As the scab dries and falls off, the process of wound healing fills the wound gap with new cells and extracellular matrix. A variety of factors contribute to this complex process, including hormones.

The big draw to this article is how important estrogen (or, as they spell it: oestrogen) is to wound healing. Mice that have no ovaries and thus are incapable of producing estrogen do not proceed through the wound healing process. The conclusion is that estrogen is an essential player in wound healing.

I have low levels of estrogen. I don't know if that is just how my body is naturally or if it occurred as a result of a phase in my life, but that is the truth. My low levels of estrogen are likely one reason for the weakness of my skin and the subpar aesthetics of my healed skin.

Just thought this was interesting. Hormones do a lot for your body. It's nice when they are in balance, sucks when they aren't (right, ladies PMSing now?).

If you get the chance, go to the actual page I got this from and also check out the other archived pictures/research.

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