Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is also present in the human organism and is present as an active ingredient in numerous cosmetics. The substance is considered an effective anti-aging agent and is also used to treat certain skin diseases. Hyaluronic acid is of medical importance in osteoarthritis treatment as well as for wrinkle injection.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturalpolysaccharide. With the help of the body’s own enzymes, the gel-like transparent liquid is joined together into a substance. Most of the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in the human organism is:
- in connective tissue
- in the skin
- in the joint fluid
- in the intervertebral discs
- in the eyeball
Natural glycosaminoglycan (hyaluronic acid) is an important component of connective tissue.
The functions of hyaluronic acid
The most important task of hyaluronic acid is to bind water so that the tissue remains supple and moist. This also regulates the moisture content of the skin, which owes its elasticity and resilience to the action of hyaluronic acid. In the joints, the substance acts as a natural lubricant, while in the intervertebral discs it serves as a buffer.
When was hyaluronic acid detected?
Scientists Karl Meyer and John Palmer were able to chemically isolate hyaluronic acid for the first time in 1934. Since then, the substance has been used for various cosmetic and medical purposes. The first generation of cosmetic products containing hyaluronic acid from animal sources was launched in 1981. Since 1997, modern preparations with hyaluronic acid agents, which are produced fermentatively with the help of bacteria, have been used. The risk of side effects due to possible residues of animal protein could thus be significantly reduced.
Hyaluronic acid deficiency and its consequences
With age, the body produces less and less hyaluronic acid. As a result, the skin loses moisture, the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity and the joints become more immobile. With the regular intake of a hyaluronic acid preparation, age-related deficiency symptoms can be partially compensated. However, not every product advertised in advertising is also scientifically tested. Although many users report positive experiences, other users are dissatisfied with the promised mode of action. When the hyaluronic acid content of the skin decreases, the skin moisture decreases, so that the skin becomes dry and brittle. Hyaluronic acid acts in combination with collagen as a structural encoder in the skin. Hyaluron is therefore included in many face and body creams. The active ingredient penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin and can increase the moisture content. If you regularly use a care cream with hyaluronic acid, you can usually expect the skin to become plumper and firmer again. However, as soon as you remove the product, the skin dries out again.
Hyaluronic acid – a substance with special characteristics
Due to its special properties, hyaluronic acid is also important for wound healing. Preparations with this active ingredient are successfully used in the treatment of burns and skin diseases. In addition, hyaluronic acid is one of the most important anti-aging agents. With regular use, the substance replenishes the hyaluronic stores in the skin, reducing the depth of wrinkles while improving the moisture content of the skin.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
From a scientific point of view, hyaluronic acid is a natural multiple sugar (polysaccharide). Due to its special structure, the substance is able to bind a lot of water and thus ensure the friction-free mechanics of the joints. Hyaluronic acid provides positive effects, especially in the area of the skin, by supporting the firmness and elasticity of the connective tissue. If the body’s hyaluronic acid production decreases in old age, the loss of natural hyaluronic acid can be replaced by the use of appropriate preparations containing the active ingredient.
The mode of action of hyaluronic acid on the skin
Hyaluronic acid is characterized by its special mode of action. The following effects on the skin are attributed to the substance:
- increases the moisture content
- can delay wrinkle formation
- supports wound healing
- can reduce the depth of wrinkles
- improves skin elasticity
- works against burns and redness of the skin
- reduces the feeling of tension of the skin in skin diseases (eczema, neurodermatitis)
With regular use of a product with hyaluronic acid, the skin is better hydrated and appears well moisturized. A loss of moisture in the skin promotes skin aging. The tissue and cells lose moisture every day and therefore become drier over time. In case of water loss, hyaluronic acid can help and reduce the external signs of skin aging. Hyaluronic acid is particularly effective against wrinkles, as the substance is able to bind about 6,000 times more water than its own weight. Cosmetic products containing hyaluronic acid are used by many women at the first visible signs of age to smooth small wrinkles and wrinkles.
How does hyaluronic acid help with the daily skin care routine?
Most skin care products used to care for dry and mature skin contain hyaluronic acid. There are also personal care products with hyaluronic acid, which are applied to the moist skin after showering or bathing. On the face, hyaluronic acid-containing creams serve as the basis for the make-up and are applied as an additional protective layer under the day cream. A hyaluronic acid cream is often used as a night serum and works overnight, so that the skin looks tender and well-groomed the next morning. A hyaluronic acid cream is well suited to eliminate slight wrinkles, but the cosmetic product cannot prevent further wrinkles. The visible effect in wrinkle smoothing is achieved by the physical water binding of the hyaluronic acid. While the top layers of the skin appear visually rejuvenated, the active ingredient does not reach the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, you should not expect a long-term effect on the connective tissue and a permanent wrinkle smoothing.
Which cosmetics contain hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is present in many cosmetic products. The scientific name for this substance is hyaluronate. Hyaluronate is used in various forms in cosmetics. If you would like to find out whether the product you are using contains hyaluronic acid, pay attention to the following names in the ingredients:
- hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid
- hyaluronic acid
- Sodium Hyaluronate
- Sodium hyaluronic acid ester
- Sodium acetylated hyaluronate
- Sodium hyaluronate
Hyaluronic acid in dry eyes
Many people who suffer from dry, reddened and burning eyes use eye drops with hyaluronic acid. The main causes of dry eyes include reduced eyelid stroke, insufficient production of tear fluid, altered composition of tear fluid and natural fluctuations in tear production. Dry heating air, long screen work and draughts can also irritate the eyes. Eye drops with hyaluronic acid can compensate for the imbalance of the tear film. Hyaluronic acid drops help to stabilize the moisturizing of the eye in a natural way. The eye drops are used when necessary and drizzled into the eye several times a day.
Hyaluronic acid for the respiratory tract
The mucous membranes of the respiratory tract protect the organism from the penetration of viruses and bacteria. In order for the protective barrier to remain intact, the body needs at least two litres of liquid per day. In case of lack of fluid, the mucous membranes in the neck dry out and there is hoarseness and scratching in the neck. Neck tablets with hyaluronic acid can help to eliminate the symptoms by moisturizing the sore areas of the throat, thereby alleviating the symptoms and supporting the healing process. Neck tablets containing hyaluronic acid are also taken to prevent hoarseness and moisturize the mucous membranes in the throat.
Hyaluronic acid in medicine
In orthopaedic medicine, hyaluronic acid is mainly used for the treatment of osteoarthritis (joint wear). The synthetic hyaluronic acid is supposed to supply the cartilage layer with joint fluid again and thus improve the ability to move. Since the hyaluronic acid effect is only temporary and there is a certain risk of joint inflammation by injecting the active substance, hyaluronic acid therapy in osteoarthritis is controversial. Wrinkle injections with hyaluronic acid are standard treatments in aesthetic medicine and are carried out by plastic surgeons, but also in appropriately equipped and certified cosmetic practices. Injections with this active ingredient for breast or lip enlargement are among the benefits of plastic surgery.
The special dosage forms of hyaluronic acid
For use in medical therapy, the active substance hyaluronic acid is offered in different dosage forms:
In osteoarthritis treatment, the substance is used in the form of injections. The treating doctor injects the active substance during viscocation into the gaps between the joints. The different hyaluronic acid preparations used in the medical field differ only in the number of injections required for therapy. Hyaluronic acid eye drops are used to treat dry eyes. The water-binding active ingredient forms a thin film over the lens, so that the eye stays moist for longer and the natural tear fluid is amplified. Hyaluron is also used in ENT medicine for local treatment. Hyaluronic acid can support the function of the nasal mucosa. Many nasal sprays contain the substance that prevents the dehydration of the nasal mucosa.
Hyaluronic acid in aesthetic medicine
In aesthetic medicine, hyaluronic acid syringes and creams are used in wrinkle treatment. The injection of wrinkles with hyaluronic acid is one of the most common reasons for visiting the plastic surgeon. The smoothing effect lasts about six to twelve months, after which the treatment can be repeated. Hyaluron is also injected to form lips, breasts and buttocks. Due to the moisturizing and moisture-binding properties, hyaluronic acid is often used for wrinkle injection. In an anti-wrinkle treatment, hyaluronic acid is injected into the corresponding skin areas. The substance penetrates into the deeper skin layer, the so-called leather skin.
The smoothing effect of hyaluronic acid
The smoothing effect is immediately visible after a wrinkle injection with hyaluronic acid. Depending on the concentration, however, the active substance is broken down by the organism within three to six months. In anti-aging, the use of hyaluronic acid is nevertheless very popular, because the possible side effects are extremely low. Due to the injection, there may be bruises or swelling in the affected skin areas immediately after a hyaluronic acid treatment. As an alternative to injecting hyaluronic acid, anti-aging treatment also allows the use of hyaluronic acid in the form of capsules, gel or creams. In these dosage forms, however, the hyaluronic acid does not enter the deeper layers of the skin. The effect is therefore not comparable to a wrinkle injection. Hyaluronic acid injections are also used in aesthetic medicine for modelling lips, nose, ears, breasts and nipples.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Have Side Effects?
Since the substance is also present in the human body, hyaluronic acid side effects do not generally have to be expected. In synthetic form, the active substance may cause certain side effects if sensitized accordingly. An intolerance reaction of the skin or an infection occurs only in exceptional cases. Injection treatment with hyaluronic acid is very rare for adverse effects such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Effusion formation at the joint
Observed. When the active ingredient is injected, it is important to pay attention to sterile working. If the joint becomes inflamed during an injection treatment of osteoarthritis, the treatment must be interrupted. Side effects of hyaluronic acid eye drops are noticeable by increased tear flow or burning in the eye area. When hyaluronic acid is injected as an anti-aging agent, side effects are rare. After a hyaluronic acid injection, there may be slight swelling at the puncture site or smaller bruises.
What should be considered when using hyaluronic acid?
Wrinkle injection with hyaluronic acid and medical hyaluronic acid injections are always performed by a doctor or nurse. When using cosmetic products with hyaluronic acid, the manufacturer’s recommendations for use should be observed. Eye drops with the active substance are also used in accordance with the instructions on the package leaflet.
Hyaluronic acid in pregnancy
There are currently no studies on the possible risks of injection treatment with hyaluronic acid in osteoarthritis during pregnancy. The attending physician therefore decides whether hyaluronic acid can be injected into the joint. Hyaluronic acid may be used for external use both during pregnancy and during lactation. However, when using a body lotion with hyaluronic acid, the breasts should be omitted.
Hyaluronic acid in children and adolescents
Cosmetic products containing hyaluronic acid are also suitable for children and adolescents, unless otherwise described by the manufacturer. For external use in the form of creams and body lotion, hyaluronic acid can also be used in skin care by children. Dry eyes in childhood are also treated with hyaluronic acid eye drops. For injection treatment with hyaluronic acid, no studies have been available to demonstrate suitability or efficacy in persons under 18 years of age. The decision for medical use of hyaluronic acid in children and adolescents should therefore be made by the attending physician.
Who should not use hyaluronic acid?
Persons who are allergic or hypersensitive to the active substance hyaluronic acid should refrain from hyaluronic acid treatment. In the case of hyaluronic acid from combs, which is rarely used today, people who are hypersensitive or allergic to chicken protein are also excluded from the use of the active substance. If there is bacterial inflammation of the joint, injection treatment with hyaluronic acid should be dispensed with.
What interactions can occur with hyaluronic acid?
When using hyaluronic acid-containing eye drops or lozenges, no interactions occur with the simultaneous intake of other drugs or active ingredients. However, if hyaluronic acid is used together with a disinfectant containing benzalkonium chloride, the effectiveness of the hyaluronic acid can be significantly reduced, so that the product eventually becomes ineffective.
The right dosage of hyaluronic acid products
Cosmetic or medical products containing hyaluronic acid can only develop their effect if the preparations are dosed correctly. Creams for smoothing wrinkles must be applied daily to make the skin look fresh and plump. The active substance stimulates cell renewal and should therefore be dosed in accordance with the recommendations of the cosmetics manufacturer. In knee osteoarthritis, hyaluronic acid is often used in the form of tablets and syringes to relieve inflammation. In this case, the hyaluronic acid is prescribed by the doctor and injected directly into the joint to improve lubrication and gliding ability. Depending on the symptoms, up to five hyaluronic acid injections are administered at weekly intervals. However, the cartilage cannot be restored with this therapy. The artificial joint lubrication supplied during a hyaluronic acid treatment is gradually degraded by the organism. Therapy with hyaluronic acid should therefore be repeated after six months or at the latest 12 months.