Skin Rashes & Conditions
There are many different skin rashes and conditions that can occur, affecting people of all ages. Some of the most common skin conditions include psoriasis, eczema, poison ivy, food allergies and acne. Each of these can have a significant impact on a person's life. Thankfully, there are a number of natural approaches that can help resolve some of these common skin issues.
Psoriasis and Eczema
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky patches on the skin. It is often itchy and can also feel painful. Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system and may even have a genetic component. Other contributing factors include stress, smoking and alcohol consumption. Even the weather can affect how psoriasis acts up.
Eczema is another common skin condition that causes dry, itchy patches on the skin. Eczema is a chronic condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, such as allergies or contact with irritants. Eczema can itch and be very irritating.
Diet and the Digestive System
For many, a change in diet can help symptoms related to psoriasis and eczema. In fact, according to a 2021 review, many skin disorders often occur alongside an altered gut microbiome.
The gut can affect skin health in three ways, according to researchers.
1. Dysbiosis: This is an imbalance in the natural microflora in the gut. People with these types of skin conditions often have lower bacterial diversity, lower levels of beneficial species and higher amounts of harmful bacteria species.
2. Immune system: When the immune system perceives a threat on the skin, it creates inflammation in response. This is what causes the itchy rash. Scientists believe that dysbiosis in the gut and on the skin may cause this. It may be that the immune system is detecting harmful levels of “bad” microbes on the skin and so reacts to them. Dysbiosis and eczema may then create a cycle of inflammation that perpetuates symptoms. According to the review, changes in the microbiome may also alter the immune response, causing it to dysregulate.
3. Leaky gut: In some people, the intestinal walls are too permeable and allow more to pass through than they should. This is often referred to as leaky gut, although this is not a standalone medical diagnosis. There is evidence that shows that certain beneficial species of bacteria may help the intestinal barrier work more effectively, which may explain why some studies have found a correlation between atopic eczema and an increase in intestinal permeability.
To help reduce symptoms of psoriasis and eczema, try modifying your diet by avoiding processed foods that contain unnecessary preservatives and artificial ingredients. Focus on more plant-based foods and less on animal products, including milk. Lab testing such as this Digestive Health Panel can also provide a lot of useful information on your current gut health status.
Probiotics: Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium have been found to be helpful for psoriasis and eczema. They may also have a protective effect on the microbiome when a person needs to take antibiotics, which may reduce the risk of developing dysbiosis.
Pancreatic enzymes: Pancreatic enzyme supplements have been studied for children with eczema related to food allergies. Results from a small study showed that significant improvement in eczema was seen after 6 weeks of pancreatic enzyme supplementation in 81% of participants.
Before taking any supplement, contact a health care professional to make sure it is right for you.
Poison ivy is a plant that can cause a severely itchy rash after coming in contact with the skin. The rash is often accompanied by blisters. Poison ivy exposure may be helped by immediate washing with water to remove the oils from the skin. Application of an over-the-counter cream or ointment may also be beneficial, as well as soaking in a cool bath with a cup of baking soda mixed in. The homeopathic remedy Rhus tox, if taken immediately at the onset of symptoms, can help prevent the rash from developing.
Food allergies can cause various rashes and other symptoms in response to food allergens. Common allergen foods include dairy, soy and even certain fruits like apples and strawberries. Avoiding the foods that cause skin rashes is most important. To find out if you have allergies or sensitivities, lab tests can be very helpful. A food diary is also an easy, effective tool to see what foods you are sensitive to.
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