Everything about Hyaluronic Acid and its Benefits

If you are obsessed with having a plump, soft, and supple skin, there is one miracle ingredient that should top your skincare list, and that is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can be found in most of the skin-health fitness products, from sheet masks, moisturizers, topical serums, and eye drop to even injectables used by plastic surgeons.

Many people also consume hyaluronic acid in the form of dietary supplements. So, what exactly is hyaluronic acid, how does it benefit us, and how do we incorporate it into our skincare regimen?

Let’s take a look at it below:

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, is a naturally-occurring molecule or mucopolysaccharide. The acid is also called glycosaminoglycan because of its presence in mucous membranes and joint fluids. In fact, hyaluronic acid is present in almost every cell of our body, be it in bones, tendons, cartilage, joints, eyes, internal fluids, or connective tissues. However,  a significant part of it is found in our skin.

Hyaluronic acid helps keep the skin soft, hydrated, and supple by retaining moisture in the skin and also by preventing its evaporation.

Babies are born with the maximum hyaluronic acid in their skin, and that’s why a baby’s skin is always soft!

Another essential property of hyaluronan is that it provides lubrication to the numerous connective joint tissues. Let’s take a look at some of its benefits:

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Healthy and Soft Skin:

Hyaluronic acid is a significant component of the epithelial tissues and plays a vital role in cell division. When applied to the skin surface, hyaluronan serums reduce dermatitis, wrinkles, and redness. [2],[3],[4]

Anti-aging:

Hyaluronic acid helps the skin retain moisture. Around half of it present in the body is contained in the skin. [5] As a person begins to age, the acid content in the body starts to decrease. Its depletion is further compounded by pollution, smoke, sun’s UV rays, etc., all of which lead to premature aging, eventually necessitating its supplementation.

Hyaluronic acid has numerous anti-aging properties. [6] Researchers have found that its nano-ized form, when applied to the skin topically, benefited the skin in multiple ways. A 2014 study revealed that two weeks of hyaluronan treatment reduced the depth of the wrinkles and also enhanced the elasticity of the skin. [7]

Support Wound Healing:

Hyaluronic acid also contains wound-healing and skin-repairing properties, given its anti-inflammatory attributes. Hyaluronic acid enhances wound healing by regulating the levels of inflammation and signaling the body to strengthen the blood vessels in the area of injury. [8],[9]

Applying hyaluronic acid to skin wounds has proven to reduce the size of wounds, especially ulcers, and restore the skin barriers, thereby reducing the pain. [10],[11],[12] Given its antibacterial properties, hyaluronic acid, when applied directly on an open wound, helps reduce the chances of an infection on the site of injury. [13], [14]

Hyaluronic acid is also useful in dentistry as it speeds up the healing of mouth ulcers when applied topically in the mouth. It also enhances healing post a tooth surgery and helps in combating gum diseases. [15]

Relieves Joint Pain:

Hyaluronic-acid supplements help in relieving joint pains in osteoarthritis patients. [16]

It is ideally injected into the joints to provide relief from pain in such patients. However, this might as well be associated with certain side-effects. [17]

Relieves Dryness and Discomfort of the Eye:

Research shows that approximately one in seven older adults suffers from dry eye syndrome. [18] Hyaluronic acid, given its excellent moisture retention capacity, is often used to treat dryness of eyes. Eye drops containing 0.2% to 0.4% of hyaluronic acid have proven to be effective in minimizing dry eye symptoms and enhancing the overall eye health. [19],[20],[21] In fact, eye drops containing hyaluronic acid are increasingly used during eye surgery to speed up wound healing and minimize inflammation. [22],[23]

Another interesting use of hyaluronic acid is in contact lenses. Contact lenses containing slow-release hyaluronic acid are gaining traction as a possible treatment in relieving dry eye syndrome. [24],[25]

How to Use Hyaluronic Acid?

For topical applications, choose a hyaluronic acid that has low molecular weight. This is because its molecules are too large to penetrate the skin[31], and hence using a product with low molecular weight will allow better penetration. You will have to pay attention to the label when buying the product to check the molecular weight.

If you are planning to heal scars or fine lines, it is better to consult a dermatologist about hyaluronic-acid dermal filler injections. As filler injections allow better penetration beyond the superficial layer of the skin, they may be more effective in healing the skin at the molecular level. [32]

However, know the various side effects associated with such fillers, like redness, swelling, itching, etc., by consulting a dermatologist before making the purchase.

Do Hyaluronic Acid Supplements Yield Visible Results?

healing hands
Photographer: Christin Hume | Source: Unsplash

There have been many studies concerning oral supplementation of hyaluronic acid, and all of them seem to have positive results. A Japanese study found out that hyaluronic acid, when ingested orally for three weeks, boosted the moisture content, and effectively helped relieve dry skin. [26] Another study proved that oral supplementation of hyaluronic acid enabled individuals to have more radiant and supple skin and also decreased their wrinkles in 12 weeks. [27]

The added benefit to these supplements they possess benefits that are more than skin-deep. For instance, in the synovial joints, hyaluronic acid helps in the production of a viscous fluid, which fills up the synovial sac and enables the lubrication of the joints. As we age, the hyaluronic acid content in our body diminishes, leading to lower lubrication in joints and, eventually, to joint pains.

Research has found out that hyaluronic-acid supplements may aid in promoting bone and joint health and alleviating knee pain in osteoarthritis patients. [28],[29] Hyaluronic acid supplements may also help to minimize acid reflux symptoms. [30]

Thus, it has been proved that hyaluronic acid is an excellent supplement for various conditions, including those related to skin, bone, and joint health. It provides a plethora of benefits ranging from skincare to alleviating dry eyes and promoting joint health. Therefore, it justifies the hype around it, proving that it, indeed, is an elixir of life.

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