Skin conditions affect millions of people each year. They can be painful and unsightly, with varying levels of discomfort that may even affect your quality of life. While there are many topical products or medications that can alleviate some unpleasant signs or symptoms, especially in the short term, it is important to take a deeper look at possible underlying root causes for long term relief. This is because what is going on inside the body has a direct impact on what you see on the outside.
Let's take a closer look at four leading skin issues, the common underlying imbalances that have been linked to these conditions and what to do to support the body from inside out.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) lists acne as the most common skin issue affecting around 50 million Americans each year. It is often considered a skin condition for younger people, such as those going through puberty, but can occur at any stage and is increasing in adults. There is a strong link to hormonal changes and it also tends to be worse for those with an oilier skin type. A build up of bacteria, genetics, elevated stress, birth control and many other diet and lifestyle triggers that have an overactive inflammatory response can increase the risk or severity of an outbreak.
Research has shown that the typical western diet high in refined carbohydrates, cows milk dairy and too many saturated fats has shown close links to promoting acne through increasing unhealthy levels of inflammation. Reducing the intake of these major inflammatory food types and replacing it with whole foods and those rich in omega-3's such as wild caught fish is recommended to promote healthy levels of inflammation and clearer skin as a result.
Rosacea can appear as pimples on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead and is sometimes confused with acne. However, the redness associated with this condition typically covers a larger portion of the skin, unlike acne, which is more localized. Rosacea sometimes also causes eye irritation. The AAD estimates that this skin condition affects about 16 million Americans.
While it is known as a chronic inflammatory skin disease, the exact causes of rosacea aren't fully understood as a wide variety of factors have been associated with flare-ups in various individuals. This includes sun exposure or extreme weather conditions (hot, cold and humid), stress, alcohol, heavy exercise, and certain foods. Findings suggest the strongest links are genetics and environmental factors that initiate an unbalanced immune system response and manifest as lesions on the skin.
Doing an elimination diet can help uncover foods that may be causing a reaction. Start by removing the most common inflammatory offenders including spicy foods, dairy, hot drinks and certain fruits and vegetables then add them back one by one to see if there is any change in symptoms. Managing stress, avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption and taking precaution in hot weather conditions may also help.
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is another one of the most common chronic, recurring skin conditions that can be lifelong. It is characterized by extremely dry skin and itchy, inflamed red rashes that come and go, with known links to food and environmental allergens that cause an overactive immune system response. Increasing studies have found that permeability in the intestinal wall lining, commonly called "leaky gut," may be more common in children with eczema and it is now well accepted that gut barrier dysfunction is implicated in all of the inflammatory skin conditions outlined.
Eliminating common food allergens including eggs, dairy and gluten has shown almost immediate relief, and running a comprehensive food sensitivities test is another way to confirm any foods that may be triggering a flare up. Removing these foods, often only temporarily while you work on healing the gut at a deeper level is likely to provide long term relief. Using natural skin moisturizers including coconut oil and colloidal oatmeal can also help alleviate symptoms. Once any underlying gut imbalance has been addressed, probiotics have been shown to increase the diversity of gut bacteria and can help boost your immune system since over 80% of immune cells are located in the gut.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterized by itchy, inflamed patches of skin that most often affect the scalp, elbows and knees, but can also affect any skin-covered area. It can also be a risk factor for more serious health issues including psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular conditions and has also been linked to mental health disorders. Psoriasis is caused by dysfunction in the immune system where an overactive immune response causes the body to turn over skin cells too quickly resulting in immature cells building up on the skin surface before they have had a chance to properly mature, creating thick, red skin with scaly patches.
When it comes to supporting Psoriasis, what you eat features again, as the common food triggers discussed throughout this article have been associated with flare-ups due to the increased inflammatory response. Smoking, being overweight and heavy alcohol consumption may aggravate psoriasis and high levels of stress or a traumatic event can also trigger a flare.
If you are suffering from any skin issues, prioritizing a diet rich in anti-inflammatory wholefoods, managing any stressors and looking deeper for possible underlying gut imbalances can help rebalance the body from the inside and as a result your skin on the outside.