Why is your circulatory system so important for your skin?

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Skin Health Advisor
Ask Felicity

04 September 2018

What is your cutaneous circulation?

Your skin relies on a steady supply of oxygenated blood and nutrients to function properly which is why your circulatory system is so important. An intricate network of blood vessels and capillaries, your cutaneous circulation system helps to provide your skin with oxygen-rich blood and nutrients. It also helps to transport carbon dioxide and other waste products away from your skin, preventing a build-up of toxins! 

Surprisingly though, your skin actually doesn’t require as much blood as other areas of your body – in fact it’s estimated that it needs only 1.7% of the blood flow from the heart1 and this is possible because your skin isn’t as metabolically active as other areas of your body. However, this 1.7% really does matter as not only do you need the nutrients, you also need a healthy blood supply to help regulate your core body temperature!

You see, your skin plays a big role when it comes to cooling your body down which makes sense when you think about it.  When the hypothalamus, the area of your brain responsible for regulating your temperature, detects that your body temperature is rising, it will cause the capillaries in your skin to relax. This then increases the flow of blood to your skin which subsequently affects how much heat is lost as sweat is evaporated. 

Having a healthy circulation system ensures that your skin can play its part in this mechanism, however, what if your circulation system isn’t operating at 100%? How can this affect your skin? 

How does poor circulation affect your skin?

Your circulation can be affected by a variety of factors; some of them may arise from common problems such as anaemia whereas others can be more serious, such as elevated cholesterol levels. No matter the underlying cause though, the integrity of your skin is bound to be affected which is why below I’ve highlighted a few recurring symptoms that may be problematic if you have poor circulation.

Your natural complexion may change – If your skin isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to thrive then you may notice a few changes start happening when it comes to your complexion. If your blood lacks oxygen it can cause skin discolouration which is why those that suffer from anaemia, often notice that their skin becomes paler and sallower. 

You may become more prone to spots – Spots often appear if your skin isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, however, poor circulation has another additional problem. If your body isn’t able to transport enough oxygen-rich blood to your skin then that means that, by the same token, it also won’t be taking the waste products away as efficiently, which can result in a build-up of toxins. 

You will experience more flare-ups – If you suffer from a skin condition such as eczema, then you may notice that your skin becomes more susceptible to flare-ups. This could be for a number of reasons for example, if all those waste products are building up, your skin may be more vulnerable to inflammation, a major eczema trigger. It also doesn’t help that if your skin’s not getting an adequate supply of blood, it may struggle to remain sufficiently hydrated, contributing to skin problems such as dry skin.

You won’t be able to ward off free-radical molecules – Free radical molecules are a huge cause of premature ageing which is why your skin needs a healthy amount of antioxidants, particularly as you age. If your skin isn’t getting this supply, then it won’t be able to effectively counter the free-radicals or the damage that they inflict. This can result in the increased appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as impacting the overall integrity of your skin.

You may notice dark circles appearing under your eyes - The skin surrounding your eyes  is naturally thin and delicate so, if your capillaries are transporting blood that’s less oxygenated, it can appear as bluish shadows under your eyes.

What can you do to improve your circulation?

Poor blood circulation isn’t good news for your skin so how can you go about improving your circulation? Of course, the answer can depend on what the underlying cause of your circulation problem is, but in circumstances when the cause is minor, there is plenty you can do to boost your circulation.

1 – Don’t smoke

It’s safe to say that by now, most of you will be aware of the health risks involved with smoking. Not only can it cause serious respiratory problems, it can also cause the walls of your arteries to become narrower, hindering how blood is transported to your skin. It’s also worth noting that smoking will deplete your skin’s stores of crucial nutrients, such as vitamin C, and can cause premature ageing!

The good news is that, if you are looking to stop smoking, there is plenty of help out there to aid you along your journey. For more information, please check out NHS’s stop smoking services!

2 – Get your blood pumping

Physical activity is extremely important for getting your blood pumping, which can help to increase your circulation of oxygen-rich blood. It doesn’t need to be anything too intense – you don’t have to start marathon running or hitting the gym for hours at a time. A couple of aerobics classes each week or a gentle, low impact form of exercise such as tai chi can be just as beneficial.

3 – Drink plenty of fluids

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential for pretty much every area of your body, including your skin and circulatory system. If you’re not drinking enough water, it can affect how your blood is transported around your body, as well as its volume. However, not all drinks actively help to keep you hydrated – fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol can all work to dehydrate your body so it’s best to focus on good, old fashioned plain water!

4- Massage

Massages aren’t just a great way to relax and relieve tension, they can also be a useful way of improving your blood flow and helping your tissues to repair themselves, especially if your circulation problems are localised to a particular area of your body. It’s also a good opportunity to nourish your skin with some nutrient-rich oils, especially if your skin is naturally dry.

5- Get the right balance of nutrients from your diet

Just like your skin, your circulation system relies on a balance of nutrients to function properly. Your diet can provide you with a great chance to support your circulatory system naturally, with nutrients such as vitamin C, being particularly valuable when it comes to maintaining healthy capillaries and blood vessels. If you want to learn more about the types of foods you should be eating, I’d highly recommend checking out our Circulation Advisor Helen’s blog, ’10 superfoods to promote good circulation.’

Are there any herbal remedies that can help?

Diet and lifestyle advice are great ways to support your circulation but are there any herbal remedies that can help? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ as we have quite a few remedies here at A.Vogel that may help to support your circulatory system.

Let’s start with Ginkgo biloba. This herb is one of the oldest traditional healthcare botanicals known to man and it has been used for centuries in various remedies. We recommend the leaves from the ginkgo biloba tree to help maintain a healthy circulation system although it has also been shown to help maintain blood flow to the brain! This remedy might be a good idea if you’re looking for a supplement to help with the general support of your circulation system.

If you’re looking for something a bit more tailored for a specific problem like varicose veins, you might want to try our Venaforce remedy, which contains extracts of freshly harvested horse chestnut seeds. This product may help to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins and can be used in combination with our topical gel, Venagel

If you want to learn more about the circulation system, I’d definitely suggest visiting our A.Vogel Talks Circulation section of the site. Not only does our Circulation Advisor Helen go into plenty of detail about different circulatory problems, such as varicose veins, tinnitus and high blood pressure, she also provides an abundance of information and tips to help reduce your symptoms and get your circulation issue under control.

Ginkgo biloba drops & tablets


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Fresh Ginkgo leaves extract. Also available in 100ml size and tablets.
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