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Our skin, when it is in perfect condition, is a natural protective barrier against microbes and infections of all kinds. The activities of daily life often cause more or less serious skin lesions. Treating them well means safeguarding the protective function of the skin.
Cuts, scratches, burns and other small injuries are more or less frequent and inevitable, depending on the profession practiced, the age and the risks to which you are exposed. The lesions cause the coagulation and healing processes to intervene, so to speak “their job”, until the wound heals.
Disinfection In the presence of a minor skin lesion
The first step is to remove any dirt from the wound and then disinfect it. The wounds are cleaned with running water or using physiological solution (sterile sodium chloride solution). Once the wound has been cleaned, it is recommended to disinfect it with a liquid product, for example based on chlorhexidine or povidone iodate.
In the past, it was insisted that wounds healed better in the open air. The results of several clinical studies of the last few years show instead that a humid environment favors and accelerates healing. The next step is therefore to apply a more or less covering dressing to the wound.
Some vulnerable and medication products are based on calcium alginate. What are the benefits of this substance? Sailors have known for centuries the healing properties of some brown seaweed, the so-called laminaria. The discovery of the substance contained in them, endowed with healing virtues, dates back to the 19th century. Today, alginic acid in soluble form (sodium alginate) is transformed, with a chemical process, into an insoluble salt, calcium alginate, which is then used for the production of dressing products (bandages, plasters, cotton or powder). This salt has a dual action, as it promotes both hemostasis (coagulation) and scarring.
In contact with the blood, calcium alginate, which originally appears as a lattice of insoluble crystalline fibers, turns into gelatin, making calcium ions pass through the wound: in doing so, it favors one of the first phases of hemostasis, the platelet aggregation, shortening clotting times.
Gelling in contact with the blood or with the exudates that ooze from the wound, the calcium alginate creates a kind of artificial skin, which protects the lesion from external shocks and thermal changes. This gelatin also maintains a certain rate of moisture in the wound, accelerating tissue repair processes, in particular thanks to the exchange of calcium / sodium ions, which activates the key cells of the scarring process.
Treating a wound with calcium alginate can therefore have considerable advantages, especially in the case of prolonged bleeding (for example, hemostatic cotton based on calcium alginate in the event of blood leaking from the nose) and when you want to speed up healing. It is reiterated that calcium alginate products must be applied after disinfecting the wound, which must be re-examined if signs of inflammation appear (pain, redness, heat, swelling). Treating a wound with calcium alginate offers numerous advantages.
People at risk
For people who are in good health, small skin lesions are mostly a trivial problem. Cuts and nicks are instead far from negligible for hemophiliacs and diabetics. For the former, affected by a bleeding deficiency linked to a genetic defect, all wounds represent a potential danger. It is therefore necessary to facilitate the coagulation of individual lesions, using calcium alginate. The same applies to subjects who follow an anticoagulant treatment.
In diabetics, decompensated blood sugar (blood sugar) carries an increased risk of skin infections. In addition, over the years, diabetes also causes nerve damage, especially in the feet and legs. This phenomenon, the so-called neuropathy, leads to a decrease in the sensitivity of the feet. The extremities become less sensitive to heat, cold and especially pain, which is why diabetics must be particularly careful about any injuries to the feet, making sure that healing takes place in good conditions.
Another risk situation is that related to the tetanus bacillus, which can develop following a skin lesion, in the absence of sufficient coverage by the vaccine. The tetanus bacillus toxin causes the disease to be contracted by penetration of the tetanus spores into a skin lesion. These extremely resistant spores are found, for example, in the intestines of numerous herbivores (horses and sheep). Evacuated through the feces, they reach the soil and dust, where, in the presence of favorable environmental conditions, they can survive for several years.
In recent years it has been found that the cases of tetanus, fortunately few in number, mainly concern the elderly who have not undergone booster injections for some time. Vaccination offers excellent protection. It is therefore worthwhile to regularly check your vaccination booklet, contacting your doctor to undergo every ten years the booster injection of the tetanus vaccine.
I am a medical student studying at the Facultad de Medicina – UBA – Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina with the final objective in specialization for biological chemistry, cellular and molecular biology, human anatomy and physiology. In addition to studying, I spend most of my free time writing and researching alternative medicines.