Hyaluronic acid is a clear natural material that is produced in the body. Its key function is to retain enough water to ensure body tissues are moist and well lubricated.
The highest concentrations of the acid are found in the skin. It also occurs in significant amounts in the connective tissue and fluids in the joints and eyes.
The eyes need optimal levels of fluids to transport nutrients, absorb shocks, protect delicate tissues, and to produce tears. Low fluid levels can cause the eyes to become sensitive, easily irritable, or dry. Hyaluronic acid plays a critical role in maintaining adequate eye fluid levels.
Hyaluronic acid is the main substance in the vitreous humor, the central part of the eye. It helps to retain the eye structure, replenishes lost moisture and keeps the eyes lubricated. The acid also helps to reduce oxidative stress in the cornea caused by UV radiation.
It also maintains moisture in the skin and works as a lubricant and cushion in the joints and other tissues. It may play a significant role in the body’s response or recovery from injury. Production of hyaluronic acid diminishes with age and it can affect a person's vision, skin, bones, joints and other body functions.
Hyaluronic acid products can also be made by bacteria in the labs or from rooster combs extracts. It has a wide range of medical and commercial applications.
Also Known As
Hyaluronic acid products are available in different forms, including:
- Eye drops
- Face creams
- Dietary supplements
Hyaluronic acid also has many medical and other uses. The products are used in:
Hyaluronic acid can retain close to 100 times its weight in water and is used to protect sensitive eye tissues during surgery. It is approved by the FDA for use in certain eye surgeries including repair of a detached retina, corneal transplantation, cataract removal, and other eye injuries. The artificial substance helps to replace the natural fluids in the eye during the procedure.
An eyewash solution containing hyaluronic acid and ginkgo Biloba extract may significantly reduce conjunctivitis symptoms when used for a month.
Artificial tears consisting of hyaluronic acid work as an eye lubricant and can help relieve eye discomfort and symptoms of dry eyes.
Treatment of osteoarthritis
It is also FDA approved for injection into the knee of individuals suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
It is used as filler for wrinkles around the eyes, such as crow's feet. It is injected straight into wrinkles in the eye area.
Hyaluronic acid supplements, including injections and creams can help to reduce skin wrinkles and damage caused by aging, the sun, pollution, and tobacco smoke. They can make a person's skin attractive and feel supplier and firmer.
Inflammation (oral mucositis) treatment
Hyaluronic acid, when used as a rinse or applied as a gel, can treat swelling and sores inside the mouth.
Relieving bladder pain
Inserting hyaluronic acid directly into the bladder through a catheter may help relieve bladder pain.
Applying hyaluronic acid gel to an open wound may help speed up the recovery process.
Hyaluronic acid may also be helpful in:
- Joint pain
- Eye trauma
- Nasal surgery
- Foot sores in diabetics
- Persistent heartburn
- Ear infection (otitis media)
- Infections of the urinary tract (UTIs)
- Thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy)
- Swelling of the nasal cavity and sinuses (rhino sinusitis)
- Shoulder pain in people after stroke (hemiplegic shoulder pain)
- A bones and joints disorder, usually in patients with selenium deficiency (Kashin-Beck disease)
The dosage depends on the condition. One should consult a healthcare provider from the appropriate instruction on the use of Hyaluronic acid supplements. In general, supplements are recommended for adults.
For aging skin, a dietary supplement may be used daily for 90 days. For osteoarthritis, it may be used daily for three months.
For dry eyes, eye drops may be used three to eight times daily.
For mouth swelling and sores, the patient can mix the product with water and use it as a mouth rinse or apply it on the affected areas.
For osteoarthritis, the healthcare provider injects the product into the knee joint. For aging skin, the healthcare provider injects the hyaluronic acid product into skin wrinkles.
Potential Side Effects
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance and rarely causes allergic reactions or severe side effects. In general, the supplements, injections and topical products appear safe when one follows the instructions provided on how to use them.
However, some of the products may have allergic reactions and adverse side effects in some people. Individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions, like anaphylaxis, should use hyaluronic acid products with caution.
That being said, it is always advisable to seek a doctor's advice on whether a supplement or therapeutic product is right for them. It is especially important if one:
- Is on treatment for an illness
- Takes prescription medication
- Has a chronic health condition
At times, hyaluronic acid injections may have the following side effects:
The side effects occur due to the injection process and not as a result of the hyaluronic acid solution. They should clear up within seven days.
Remember, one should always do a skin patch test before starting to use a new topical product.
The effects of Hyaluronic acid supplements on pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are still unknown. It is advisable to avoid taking supplements during these times.
People with a condition known as scleroderma should also avoid applying it to the skin because Hyaluronic acid might make skin ulcers worse. Individuals with cancer or a history of the disease should avoid Hyaluronic acid supplements.
There are no reported or known interactions.