What’s your Skin Saying?
Our skin is one of our largest organs, offering us immune support, detoxification, vitamin synthesis and a wonderful way to assess the body’s health. This protective layer around entire body communicates more effectively than any other organ about how our immune systems, hormones and diets are doing.
Plaguing many adults as well as teenagers, these skin irritations are commonly referred to as pimples or zits and may take form as whiteheads, blackheads and other inflamed red growths. In some cases, acne may take on a cystic form which can also be quite painful. Typically acne can be on the face, back and chest, but certainly can pop up in other locations as well. Regardless of location and the form of acne, the skin is giving an obvious distress signal that the body is not balanced.
Acne is referred to by some doctors as “diabetes of the skin”, because when researchers have looked closely at the skin of people with acne, it has an altered response to sugar similar to that of a diabetic patient. In fact, studies have shown that reducing sugar and eating a low glycemic index diet improves many cases of acne.
It is no coincidence that teenagers suffer from acne more than adults. There are two main reasons for this: hormones and diet. Poor diet choices particularly less whole foods, more dairy and unhealthy fats can lead to acne. Also, poor clearance or detoxification of hormones, particularly estrogen and testosterone, can lead to an increase in acne. Improved diet and liver support can often improve acne conditions in all ages.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Dry, flaky, itchy skin can develop in skin folds like the inside of your elbow, or otherwise knees, abdomens or anywhere on the body. Sometimes it may even manifest as weeping blisters. This chronic skin condition is known as eczema. Eczema may appear to look like many other conditions, so it is important to confirm a diagnosis with a physician.
Eczema is a sign of inflammation in the body. Like asthma or seasonal allergies, this skin condition is an immune response. Many things may trigger the immune system to become irritated, but often times it’s associated with a food allergy, environmental allergy or else a stressed immune system. There are many nutrients and other factors that can help calm and balance a stressed immune system, however, it’s important to address the cause. From a naturopathic medical perspective, a skin condition like eczema is the body complaining of an imbalance. Treating the skin with cortisone cream will reduce and suppress the symptom, but not address the cause. The concern with not addressing the cause is, eventually another symptom of this imbalance may evolve, often times more severe than the skin condition. For example, an ignored food allergy may present as eczema, but later may manifest as migraine headaches, asthma or some other form of inflammation if left undiagnosed. Eczema is often the first sign of inflammation and balancing the immune system to reduce eczema may require assessing proper nutrition and determining potential food and environmental allergies.
Small growths that are often more mentally irritating than physically, common warts are caused by a viral infection on the skin. Often only a concern if they are in a painful location or are otherwise a cosmetic concern, warts are frequently treated by simply being removed. If left untreated, they may resolve within a few years, however, treated or not, they often reoccur and can also spread from one part of the body to another.
Why do some people get warts and others do not? Part of everyone’s immune system is in charge of fighting viral infections. If this part of our immune system is not supported with proper nutrients or is suppressed with stress or poor diet, we will be more susceptible to viral infections. Burning off the one wart may make it go away, but it does not make the susceptibility to warts go away.
Reoccurring common warts are a sign that the anti-viral immune system needs help. Wart prevention, with proper nutrition and stress support, may also lead to a decrease in other viral infections, such as upper respiratory infections because overall anti-viral immunity is improved.
What may appear to be simple cosmetic concerns are actually warning signs of areas needing support in the body. With the beauty care industry only concerned with the surface level, it is all too easy to apply a cream, gel or salve, natural or conventional, and make the signs of imbalance disappear. Letting your skin be your guide will help steer you to what your body is asking for and what will improve your overall health.
Dr. Lauren Young is a board certified naturopathic physician, accepting new patients for her family practice in Manchester, CT. Dr. Young is in network with most insurance companies. For an appointment or more information, please call (860)533-0179 or visit www.ctnaturalhealth.com.