Skin Repair and Protection for Outdoor Athletes
So, after putting 27 stitches in my left calf this summer, I think I know a little bit about skin repair. I learned a TON during my bi-monthly sessions at the UNC-Rex Hospital wound care clinic about how skin heals and all the preps and potions that can be used to promote skin re-growth and protect deep wounds from infection.
Right around Christmas, the folks at BLGD Active Skin Repair sent us some samples of their alternative to antibiotic ointments and cleansers for minor cuts and scrapes. While very interested, I have to admit, I wasn’t in a hurry to have any kind of excuse to try it. Who can blame me??
But, whilst cleaning up my office, somehow I managed to stub a toe on one foot and also tear off part of the nail on the big toe on my other foot. Not sure exactly how, or if it was in the same unremarkable incident but there I was, with two bloody, and painful, toes.
I started to go for my normal minor cut routine, but I stopped myself and remembered the bottles of Active Skin Repair in my kit. Active Skin comes in two forms: an easy to use, handy spray and a gel that is good when damaged skin needs to be moisturized, like on a sunburn. I went for the spray.
Move Over, Bactine
Active Skin lives up to its promise of being non-stinging. It did not irritate the torn nail, which as I am sure you know, can be especially tender. While it didn’t immediately have that soothing effect that some lotions in a good emollient base can have, within minutes, both toes felt better. I liked the fact that all I had to do was hit it with the spray- no rubbing it in and risking damaging or further irritating the cut.
Next morning, both toes looked better. Healing was clearly well underway. After two days, redness and inflammation is gone and the small injuries are non-issues.
So, what’s in this stuff and where does it come from?
Active Skin is made by BLGD Active, a company started by Justin Gardner, who has years of experience in the regenerative medicine field. That’s where he ran across the molecule known as hypochlorous or HOCl. According to BLGD’s website, “when formulated correctly, HOCl can kill 99.9% of all bacteria within 15 seconds of contact, thus helping the body’s natural healing process. HOCl is also 100% natural, 100% non-toxic, antibiotic free, petroleum free, painless and completely safe for use around the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.”
According to the folks at BLGD, here’s how it works:
“The basic science works like this: When skin damage occurs, the body responds by sending white blood cells. One type of white blood cell is a neutrophil, and neutrophils produce HOCl, helping the body fight off bacteria and heal faster.” The BLGD folks posit that by using HOCl, you are essentially treating wounds in a way that mirrors the way the body functions internally. Helping things along, as it were.
We did a little digging and there are some sciency articles that back up the claims of effectiveness of HOCl:
Heretofore, appropriately formulated HOCl was available only in hospitals, trauma centers and wound care clinics.
Gardner decided to take a small bottle of the stuff with him on a surf trip to the Indian Ocean and it was an instant hit, replacing the need for things like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and antibacterial goops for painful and bacteria-filled reef cuts. If you know much about wound care, you know that hydrogen peroxide and alcohol can do more damage to a minor cut than they can do good. Doctors will tell you plain old soap and water is best to clean out a minor wound. But, at the surf break, or in the backcountry, keeping mild soap and water handy and clean can be difficult if not inconvenient. And if you’ve ever had a reef cut, you know how painful it can be, as well as how it can end a surf session or even a surf trip if not cared for appropriately. On that same trip, Gardner and his friends also discovered that HOCl was also effective in treating sunburn, insect bites, rashes and chafing. So, one small bottle does it all. And it does it well, if my toe experience is any gauge.
But, you don’t have to be surfing in the Indian Ocean or anywhere where there’s a reef to use Active Skin Repair. In my local lakes, there are plenty of critters in the water to be concerned about, and even a minor cut at our local break at the coast can set you up for a nasty infection on the smallest of cuts if you are not careful. From now on, Active Skin Repair is going to be a part of my home and travel first aid kit, at least until the science tells me otherwise.
Usage Directions from the website:
Use Active Repair Hydrogel on: cuts, scrapes, sunburns, normal burns, chaffing, rashes, wounds, insect bites and other skin irritations.
Shake well before using. Liberally apply active repair hydrogel to the affected area. If needed it may be reapplied. Apply 1-5 times per day or as needed.
Safe for application around mouth, nose, ears and eyes.
Spray or Hydrogel? Both Active Skin Repair products use the same active ingredient HOCL. The Hydrogel uses a non-toxic biodegradable gel that helps moisturize damaged skin while the spray provides a light, liquid mist. The hydrogel and spray can be used together or separately based on preference.