We frequently see collagen as an ingredient in beauty products, as a way to healthier hair and younger-looking skin. If that were its only role, it might be tempting to chalk it up to fad or vanity. But if you’re aware of collagen’s role in soothing your arthritis pain or the itching of dermatitis, it might not come as a surprise to know that collagen also has a key role in healing serious wounds. In fact, the same characteristics of collagen that strengthen your hair and give your skin a healthy glow help to heal and protect wounds caused by severe burns, donor sites for skin grafts, and pressure ulcers, for example.
If you haven’t seen collagen at work in a hospital setting – and I hope you never do – you might be surprised to know how versatile it is. Collagen wound care can take many forms, from gels and pastes to flexible membranes or sponges to cover a wound. It helps protect the wound site from trauma and bacteria, maintains a healthy moisture level, and helps stimulate the bodies own collagen production to build new tissue. And the same structure that helps support your hair and skin acts as a template for new growth in a wound. It’s not just a covering, like gauze or tape, it’s actually working with the body’s cells to speed up healing.
Collagen peptides are made up of many amino acids, including arginine, which improves circulation and gets oxygen and nutrients to the wound site to speed healing.
Your body uses a tremendous amount of its resources when working on healing a wound and fighting off infection. The stronger and healthier your body is to begin with, the better equipped it is to heal. That makes prevention the first step in any healing process.
There are a number of factors that affect your body’s ability to heal. Some you can’t control. Age and trauma, for example. But there are other lifestyle related factors that affect your healing abilities that you can take some control of.
The first is nutrition. Your body needs a healthy diet of whole foods for optimum health and clean water for hydration. Wound healing – even just a scratch or small cut – requires extra energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Lean protein, zinc, and vitamins C and A are especially important to support healing. Maintaining a healthy diet of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the best way to both prevent injury and to heal.
Skin moisture is another vital factor in wound prevention and management. Have you ever noticed that a paper cut heals faster, and with less pain, when covered by a bandage? Keeping a wound covered helps maintain moisture, which makes it easier for new skin cells to replace the damaged cells. As we age, skin becomes thinner and drier and it becomes even more important to think about hydration. Drinking plenty of water and/or non-sugary fluids, protecting skin with sunscreen, and applying moisturizer to dry skin helps maintain our skin’s integrity. Which is extremely important, because it is our body’s first line of defense against environmental invaders and wounds.
Skin that is full of collagen is supple and hydrated because one of the roles of collagen is to hold moisture in the deeper layers of your skin. Skin hydration is improved by supplementing with collagen peptides, leaving your skin stronger and healthier.