The skin is the body’s largest organ, occupying 15 percent of your total body weight, according to Medline Plus. The skin protects the body from injury and bacteria. Beta glucan, which is extracted from the cell wall of oat kernels, has a number of benefits for the skin. These natural compounds help to reduce redness and other sensitive skin reactions.
The skin has three layers: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The outermost layer is known as the epidermis. Beneath the epidermis is the dermis, where hair follicles, nerves and sebaceous glands reside. This is also the layer where wrinkles form. The skin’s primary function is to protect the body from toxins, bacteria and extreme temperatures.
Beta glucan is a form of soluble fiber. Used in skin care for centuries, oats help to relieve itching and pain and help to heal minor wounds, reports NewsMedical.net. Oats are also known for their moisturizing and smoothing effects on the skin, but it was initially thought that beta glucan molecules were too large to be able to penetrate the skin. Recent studies suggest that the molecules are small enough to penetrate the epidermis.
When applied topically, oat beta glucan helps to moisturize the skin as well as heal minor burns and wounds, suggests Smart Skin Care. Beta glucan may help to reduce wrinkles and promote anti-aging.
In a 2005 study, published in the "International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists" magazine, Dr. Pillai and his research team performed a series of experiments on skin section to assess the penetrability of oat beta glucan. The results showed that not only did the beta glucan penetrate the epidermis, it also reached the dermis. Although, on the surface, the results sound promising, they are ambiguous as Pillai’s skin section had been frozen then treated with gamma radiation. In a separate study, Dr. Pillai treated 27 human subjects with 0.1 percent topical beta glucan or a placebo for eight weeks. After the trial period was over, the subjects treated with beta glucan showed improved skin smoothness and fewer wrinkles compared to the subjects treated with a placebo.
Although there are currently no known side effects from beta glucan, you should consult your doctor before using it.