Eczema, dermatitis and other skin issues
My chronic health journey started with a patch of eczema on my neck. The traditional approach to dealing with eczema, dermatitis and other skin issues is antibiotics (for bacterial forms), topical steroid creams, corticosteroids and antihistamines. I was given all of these. None of them addressed the underlying cause. They simply treated the symptoms.
The prevalence of skin issues is on the rise. It is not only a burden on our health system, it has a big impact on quality of life for those effected. It can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and even painful and the knock-on effect can lead to infection with the subsequent antibiotic use making the whole problem even worse.
In my case and in those I know dealing with recurrent eczema and dermatitis, they will do almost anything for relief from the burning and itching. The good news is you don’t have to live like this and you can heal from the inside out. It will likely require some changes.
Where do you start?
Conventional medicine doesn’t always support the link between diet, lifestyle and skin issues and to be fair, the issue is often multifactorial. My personal experience and the experience of my family and others I have helped shows a strong influence between food choices and skin issues, particularly eczema and dermatitis.
The role of food
Intolerance testing can be helpful but it is typically unreliable. Most people already know their triggers, but following a systematic process will help you to pin the triggers down. Typical triggers for skin issues are dairy, wheat and for some nightshades and eggs can also have an impact.
Following a predominately Paleo diet with AIP (auto immune protocol) will help to settle your system down. This involves eliminating all grains, dairy, nightshades and eggs and possibly nuts and seeds for a period of time, typically up to 3 months. Then you can reintroduce some foods to see what works for your body.
I strongly advocate no dairy or wheat for those who have a history of skin issues. As I have said before, eating clean, wholefoods, vegetables, fruit, protein and fats is the best way to have a strong, healthy immune system.
Supplements to support skin health
I recommend working with a trained functional medicine practitioner to work out what you need. For some, a change in diet will be enough. Others will need some support to reach optimal health. Things like Omega 3, zinc, vitamin A, D, E, B3 and selenium are often needed to support skin health. Your hormones and stage of life can also have an impact.
The role of the gut
And, as I have said before the role of your gut health in all of this is paramount. Skin issues go hand in hand with Leaky Gut. So, healing your gut and keeping it healthy is critical. Probiotics and prebiotics will help rebalance the gut microbiome alongside the right diet.
You may have other factors that you need to consider. In my case, heavy metal toxicity had a big role to play as did stress. It was only when I addressed these other issues that my skin health began to improve and it didn’t happen overnight.
I went through several, Doctor led detoxification processes to bring my heavy metal load down and I had my very old mercury amalgams in my teeth replaced. It is so important to do this after you have healed your gut so your body can deal with it.
And, to also do so in a very controlled manner. Otherwise you risk increasing your toxic metal levels in your body even further.
The impact of stress
The role of stress is often overlooked when looking at skin issues. When you live with continually high levels of stress, you flood your body with cortisol. Cortisol provides your body with glucose so you have the energy to respond to the perceived threat. This is turns increases the sugar levels in your body. This can then have all sorts of negative impacts on the body – weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and possible diabetes, hormonal imbalances, a suppressed immune system, gut problems. The list goes on.
What you put on your skin matters
Your skin is your biggest organ. A bit of everything you put on your skin is absorbed and passes into your bloodstream. Environmental toxins, soaps, cosmetics all have an impact and if you suffer from eczema, dermatitis or other skin conditions, what you put on your skin makes a big difference.
One product that I found useful when I was suffering eczema on my face and neck was Glad skin. It is a product developed in The Netherlands and looks at treating the bacteria on your skin, but importantly it is able to target only the bacteria implicated in eczema, not all the bacteria on your skin. As with the gut, it is when bacteria get out of balance that problems occur.
Other that that, keep it clean and simple on your skin. Stay away from products containing chemicals or fragrance of any kind. Coconut oil is great for the skin. I make a scrub with coconut oil and raw sugar and clean my face with that 1-2 times per week. You won’t need to moisturise after. Just wipe your face with a warm cloth a couple of times after application.
So you can see, getting to the root cause of your skin issues is unique to you. It is so important for you to be clear on what you want YOUR health and wellness to look like and why. To make the changes YOU want to make for reasons beyond just clearing up your skin. YOU don’t have to live with the discomfort, itchiness, pain and embarrassment.
There is a better way.
That doesn’t mean salads and yoga for the rest of your life!
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