Allantoin is an organic compound that is produced naturally by several organisms, counting plants, animals as well as bacteria. In effect, allantoin was discovered in the form of a natural element in fetal allantoic fluid, comfrey roots, rice polishing, wheat germ, in dog urine as well as in the urine of women who are pregnant. In addition this chemical compound is present in the earth-worm and also in the form of a natural component in several types of soils.
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Allantoin often forms an active ingredient in skin creams, ointments and also in products meant for oral hygiene. In addition, it is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics as well as other toilet products. Allantoin is also used for remedial purposes, especially for treating dermatological conditions, counting eczema, impetigo (an infectious skin condition), acne as well as psoriasis. When used in extremely low concentrations (generally from 0.1 per cent to 2.0 per cent) allantoin is most effective.
The diureide (a chain of compound nitrogenous substances) of glyoxylic acid, allantoin is an oxidation product of uric acid that can form crystals and is present in allantoic as well as amniotic fluids in the fetal urine of animals, including humans, and also in several plants. It may be noted that ureide is a complex substance obtained from urea and encloses acid radicles. The radicles derived from one urea molecule are monoureides (for example alloxan), while those obtained from two molecules, as in the case of uric acid, are known as diureides. In most mammals allantoin is basically a urinary elimination product of purine metabolism, but not in the case of higher apes, counting humans.
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This organic compound can also be produced synthetically or artificially by means of oxidation of uric acid. Allantoin is known to be very effective in softening the skin, known as keratolytic effect, as well as in rapid renewal of cells and works by depositing proteins on the skin. In addition, this complex compound is also used in the form of a rasping/ abrasive as well as astringent agent in the certain skincare products, such as creams, cosmetic lotions, scalp preparations, suntan products, lipsticks, shampoos and even in a variety of aerosol preparation. In addition, allantoin is also used in preparation of topical pharmaceutical products. Besides, allantoin has also been employed in an assortment of oral hygiene ablutions, for instance toothpaste and mouthwash. It is also used in eye drops for treating watering eyes and in ear drops to cleanse the ear canal.
Alloxan is an oxidized product of uric acid prepared by using nitric acid. When this substance was administered to animals on an experimental basis, it produced discerning obliteration of the beta cells in the pancreas resulting in ketoacidosis (a condition caused by augmented production of ketone bodies) and hyperglycemia (exceptionally high glucose levels in the body). Alloxan is a very potent oxidation agent and decreased product of alloxan known as dialuric acid obtained from alloxantin (a hemiacetal - a category of compounds enclosing an alkyl group, particularly when formed as intermediaries in the formulation of acetals derived from ketones or aldehydes). Alloxantin is utilized as a raw material for producing ammonium purpurate dye and murexide (chemical formula, C8H5N506·NH3) by heating it at a high temperature (100°C) in ammonia gas. It may be noted that murexide is primarily used in the form of a complexometric titration indicator as well as a reagent to measure calcium and other exceptional earth metals.
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Allantoin derives its name from allantois, which is an excretory organ of embryos found in majority of the mammals, barring the humans and higher apes, wherein the compound builds up. In effect, allantois is a by-product released by animals during purine catabolism, wherein the waste product uric acid is oxidized and disintegrated. In addition to most mammals, allantois is also found in several plants, such as sugar beet, comfrey, chamomile, tobacco seed and even wheat sprouts. A popular source of allantoin is the herbal extract of comfrey. Besides being an organic compound, allantoin can be made artificially or synthesized using animal urea.
The Over-the Counter (non-prescription) Topical Analgesic Review Panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has graded allantoin as a Category I active component in skin protecting medications when it is used at 2.0 per cent concentration. In other words, the FDA has classified allantoin as a safe and effective non-prescription medication for skincare. Over several decades, allantoin has been extensively used in cosmetic products as well as over-the-counter topical preparations, which has helped it to be a cost-effective anti-inflammatory chemical addition. Products containing allantoin are most popular as medications that are applied topically to prevent as well as treat dehydrated and cracked or roughened skin and lips.
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Topical application of allantoin results in the wanted effects as it promotes healthy skin. This chemical compound, whether organic or synthesized, is assumed to clean the necrotic tissues and expedite the cell regeneration or growth of new and healthy tissues. As allantoin encourages the growth of new and healthy tissues, healing by covering the affected areas with new tissues (epithelization) may occur. It may be noted here that allantoin has also be identified as a cell proliferant (a substance that repairs damaged cells), a stimulator of epithelization as well as a chemical debrider (cleanser of wounds).
As mentioned earlier, allantoin, both in its organic and synthesized form, is a safe, non-allergic and non-toxic chemical compound that does not have any odour. Allantoin is a white, crystalline powder when it is sold separately for use in homemade lotions, soaps as well as bath products. Allantoin possesses moisturizing as well as skin softening (keratolytic) properties. In effect, this chemical substance induces keratin in the skin to become softer. This particular attribute of allantoin facilitates rapid healing as well as retaining moisture in the skin more efficiently. This is the primary reason why products containing allantoin are very effective in healing conditions, such as burn injuries, wounds and scars. In addition, allantoin is also a helpful medication for sunburn, cold sores, cracked or roughened lips, diaper rash and other types of similar skin problems. This chemical compound also forms an active ingredient in medications as well as analgesic gels used topically to treat psoriasis.
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Individuals who do not have any explicit skin problems are also able to benefit from the products having allantoin as an active ingredient. This is because allantoin helps to maintain the skin smooth, supple as well as hale and hearty. Besides, allantoin also has the aptitude to facilitate the protection of the skin against all types of irritants and, therefore, it may be included in cosmetic products with a view to neutralize the dehydrating or irritating effect of other components, for instance soap, acids, detergents or alcohol. Hence, individuals having sensitive skin are likely to have a preference for products having allantoin as an active ingredient. Nevertheless, thus far there is no scientific evidence that allantoin helps to lessen the consequences of aging.
Before concluding, it may be said that allantoin is a curative, moisturizing, comforting, anti-irritating, non-toxic and keratolytic agent that forms a vital ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetic, dermatological as well as veterinary products. In addition, allantoin is also an important cell-proliferating curative agent that promotes formation of healthy tissues or aids in regeneration of cells. Allantoin possesses a distinctive skin softening or keratolytic effect and works as a chemical debrider (wound cleanser) of necrotic as well as flaking tissue. This chemical compound cleans up the affected areas when it is applied topically.
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