We will discuss “Leech therapy for skin”. Our skin is one of the largest and heaviest organs of the body which weighs about four to five kg. It is not uniformly thick. In some places it is thick and in some places it is thin. The average thickness of the skin on our body is considered about 1 to 2 mm. in few parts of the body like in the sole of the foot; palm of the hand and in the interscapular region, the thickness is about measuring about 5 mm. In other areas of the body, the skin is thin like over eyelids and penis; the thickness of the skin is about measuring 0.5 mm only.
Functions of skin
The primary function of the skin is the protection of the organs. It also many functions which are as follows:-
The skin on our body forms the covering layer on all the organs and protects these organs from the following:
- Bacteria and toxic substances from outside
- Mechanical blow (injury)
- Ultraviolet rays (UV rays of the sun)
Protection of skin from Bacteria and Toxic Substances: –
Skin covers all the organs of our body and protects our organs from direct contact with the external environment which causes diseases. Thus we can say that it prevents bacterial infection. Lysozyme secreted by our skin destroys the bacteria’s prevent on the skin.
Keratinized stratum corneum which is the layer of the epidermis is responsible for the protective function of the skin. This layer also provides protection against toxic chemicals like acids and alkalis which come in contact with our skin. If the skin is injured, infection occurs due to the invasion of bacteria from the external environment.
Protection from Mechanical Blow: –
Skin is not tightly placed over the underlying organs or tissues. It is somewhat loose and moves over the underlying subcutaneous tissues. So, the mechanical pressure caused by any blow to the skin is not transmitted to the underlying tissues of the skin.
Protection from Ultraviolet Rays: –
The skin protects the body from ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Exposure of our skin to sunlight or to any other source of ultraviolet rays increases the production of melanin pigment in our skin which is responsible for hyperpigmentation.
The skin has many nerve endings, which form the specialized cutaneous receptors. These receptors are stimulated by sensations of touch, pain, pressure or temperature sensation and convey these sensations to the brain via afferent nerves.
Skin stores fat, water, chloride, and sugar. Skin can also store blood by the dilatation of the cutaneous blood vessels present on the skin.
Skin, when exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, helps in the production of vitamin D3
Regulation of body temperature
The skin has also an important function in the regulation of our body temperature. Excess of heat is produced in our body is lost through the skin by radiation, evaporation, conduction and convection processes.
Sweat glands present on the skin also play an important role in heat loss, by secreting sweat. The lipid content present in sebum prevents the loss of heat from the body in cold weather.
Regulation of water and electrolyte balance
Skin regulates water balance and electrolyte balance by excreting water and salts through sweat.
Our skin also excretes small quantities of waste materials from the body like urea, salts and fatty substance.
Our skin is responsible for the absorption of fat-soluble substances and also some ointments.
Our Skin secretes sweat from sweat glands and sebum from sebaceous glands present on the skin. By secreting sweat, skin regulates body temperature and water balance in the body and sebum helps to keeps our skin smooth and moist.
Layers of skin
Skin is made up of two layers: –
- Outer epidermis
- Inner dermis
Impact of skin diseases upon life
Our appearance affects the way we feel about ourselves and how well we function. The skin is always on show, particularly on the face and hands. If we think that we ‘look good’, we are more likely to ‘feel good’ and have confidence.
The psychosocial and physical impact of highly visible inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis, acne, or atopic eczema, may be profound.
Skin diseases disrupt school, work, and social life. Low self- esteem, common in teenagers with acne, may affect personal relationships, as well as prospects of employment.
Patients with chronic scaly skin conditions may also have a deep-seated, and probably quite irrational, fear of being contagious. This may be reinforced by the reaction of family and/ or friends who have an equally deep-seated fear of ‘catching something’. The patient withdraws from physical and social contact.
Why skin problems not responded to the treatment?
Many patients who are under treatment for their skin complaints often say that the treatment has not worked well. It is very important to explore this statement of why the treatment is not working for the patient skin problem.
It does not consider good to use continuously those messy ointments and some people, particularly older people and those living alone, may find it difficult to apply the treatment. This is hardly surprising if patients do not adhere to treatment plans.
The best treatment for skin diseases
Leech therapy for skin problems
There are about 3000 skin diseases are known today. In which most of the chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, leg ulcers, and vitiligo, are not immediately life-threatening diseases but they are considered as a burden for the patient’s health status and decrease the quality of life including physical, emotional as well as financial level. For their improvement of life by treating their skin disease leech therapy has worked good and has now worldwide acceptance.
Need for therapy
In Ayurveda, leech therapy has played a good role in treating diseases.
- Tinea corporis
Procedure for leech therapy treatment
In leech therapy, the procedure starts with the initial bite of the leech which is painless as the saliva of the leech contains anesthetic property. This attachment of the leech to the skin is for about twenty to forty-five minutes.
During this time leech will suck about five to fifteen ml of blood after which leech is removed from the skin. Post attachment of leech from the skin still continues to bleed. Now the final stage includes the primary therapeutic benefit which is caused by leech’s saliva content called hirudin which is protein anticoagulant which inhibits the thrombin in the clotting process in the body and histamine which causes vasodilation.
Leech therapy for skin – benefits and side effects
Every therapy has some benefits and side effects. Here are the benefits and side effects of leech therapy for skin complaints.
Benefits of leech therapy for skin
- Leech therapy helps in eliminating the toxins from the bloodstreams.
- This method is considered as a Safe method.
- It is is a Painless method.
- Therapy is also considered as a highly effective method.
- It can produce small changes in the blood for improvement the skin diseases.
- Leech therapy develops the immune mechanism in the blood by stimulating the antitoxic substance in the blood.
- Leech therapy also stimulates the liver to produce antitoxic substances for increasing the immune system.
Side effects of leech therapy for skin
- The patient can have profuse bleeding from the leech bite.
- If the bleeding is profuse the patient can develop anemia and the patient can have a severe weakness.
- There can be edema and swelling of internal organs which can interfere with the breathing swallowing. This may cause the death of the patient.
- Some patients are allergic to the components of leech saliva which can produce hypersensitive reactions in them and can cause an emergency.
- The patient can have extensive scarring on the site of the leech bite.
People with skin disease may feel shame or embarrassment and have poor self- image or low self- esteem. About ten percent of people with psoriasis and eczema have had suicidal thoughts also. Some patients with skin problems become increasingly introspective, isolated, and depressed.
Treatments prescribed for the skin condition, such as systemic corticosteroids, can also affect mood. These patient leeches therapy for skin problems has an effective role in increasing their quality of life and increases the self-confidence level in them to live their life happily.
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