Vitamin A is considered the Holy Grail of skin care. For decades, it has been used as the primary ingredient in medications to treat a whole host of skin conditions and its potent health benefits have catapulted it to the top of the list when it comes to natural skin care treatments. It has a number of properties that make it an essential element in maintaining healthy skin, fighting the signs of aging and providing relief for some of the most troubling skin ailments.
Of course, as with most natural substances, it hasn’t been without its controversy, but overall doctors and homeopaths agree that its healing benefits far outweigh any potential problems and products containing Vitamin A and its various derivatives continue to fill the shelves of drugstores and cosmetic counters alike.
How Does Vitamin A Work?
This essential nutrient is found naturally in several foods including liver, butter and eggs. In order to reap the benefits of this vitamin, the body breaks it down into retinoic acid. This complex substance works to normalize skin function. It thickens and strengthens the dermis, providing a strong base for collagen and elastin to grow and actually slows down the depletion of those two substances, which provide firmness and flexibility for healthy skin tone.
At the same time, Vitamin A performs a variety of other functions including stabilizing blood flow, exfoliating, reducing sebum output, improving hydration and repairing the skin at the cellular level. This makes it an effective agent for treating skin conditions as well as combating the common signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
What Specific Skin Conditions Does It Treat?
Vitamin A is one of the most widely used natural nutrients in terms of skin care. It is commonly used to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn, keratosis follicularis, icthyosis, lichen planus and pityriasis rubra pilaris. It has also been identified as a powerful agent in fighting the wrinkles and fine lines that are common signs of aging.
The retinoids found in Vitamin A were first identified as a potential asset in fighting acne in 1960, when Dr. Albert Kligman developed a formula he called Retin-A. This quickly became the standard in acne treatment as it was found to promote cell turn over in the skin, preventing the formation of acne comedones, or pimples. Today, there are a number of popular acne medications on the market that contain retinol in both its natural form and in synthetic form. The synthetic forms of retinol are actually known to be gentler on the skin and to reduce the instance of sun sensitivity that is a common side effect of natural retinol.
By promoting mucus secretion and balancing moisture levels in the skin, Vitamin A helps to combat conditions such as pityriasis rubris pilaris that are characterized by dry, flaky skin. At the same time, the ability of Vitamin A to boost collagen production and promote the flaking off of dead outer layers of skin helps to improve overall skin tone, eliminating fine lines and wrinkles and leaving skin looking healthier and smoother.
How Does It Compare To Traditional Treatments?
Vitamin A is not a cure all but its healing benefits have taken skin treatment to a whole new level. It is the first line of defense against certain conditions such as acne and eczema and is an important factor in promoting wound healing, easing cold sores and burns and battling itching, dryness and scaling that are common symptoms of many skin disorders.
The development of synthetic retinol has only increased its popularity by helping to reduce the side effects that come with the natural form of Vitamin A. Further research into Vitamin A and its derivatives promises to increase our knowledge of this natural wonder and help us to reap its benefits even further.