Our skin is one of the most vital organs in our body. Often we do not view our skin as an organ but it is in fact a metabolically active part of our body just as much as any other organ.
When we are lacking in certain nutrients or suffering from some level of disease in our body our skin can start to show signs of this. So much so that the health of our skin is not just skin deep but very much in tune with the rest of our body. The health conditions that can impact on our skin, hair and nails can be broadly classified as nutritional deficiencies, excessive chemical and sun exposure, hormone imbalances, infections, allergies and intolerances and system diseases. These are individually discussed below.
Nutritional Deficiencies – deficiencies in either the intake or absorption of zinc, vitamin C, silica, omega-3 essential fatty acids, as well as antioxidants can greatly impact the health of our skin and can cause poor wound healing, rashes, loss of skin shine and lubrication, and susceptibility to skin infections.
Excessive Chemical Exposure – using harsh skincare and hair and nail products can strip these structures of their natural oils and protective surfacing. Be kind to your skin and avoid over washing it. Use products that are chemical free including free of parabens, fragrances, foaming agents, and are slightly acidic in pH. Avoid fake tans that are not based on natural ingredients. Remember that your skin does breathe and so products that are applied to your skin, scalp, and to some degree your nails can be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Excessive Sun Exposure – exposure to ultraviolet light in small amounts is beneficial for our health but in large amounts can cause significant damage to the superficial and deep layers of our skin. This can lead to pigmentation, loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles, and in some cases skin cancer. More on how to safely protect yourself from the sun’s rays in the next chapter.
Hormone Imbalances – imbalances of male and female hormones can cause skin conditions such as acne, pigmentation, hair loss or thinning, changes in the elasticity of the skin causing sagging. Excessive stress hormone levels can also cause skin conditions such as itching, pigmentation and poor wound healing.
Skin Infections – certain infections of the skin (as well as nails and hair) whether it be bacterial, viral, or fungal can cause longstanding and sometimes undiagnosed rashes, sores, and itching. Many times these can be easily treated.
Allergies & Intolerances – allergies, from food allergies or something in our environment commonly expresses itself in itching of the skin. Eczema and dermatitis are examples. Both of these conditions rely on avoiding the allergic substance in order to have full relief. Food intolerances can also cause eczema-like skin irritations and can be very hard to pinpoint. By eliminating the intolerant food the rash will resolve.
System Diseases – many autoimmune diseases such as lupus, psoriasis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes can express themselves in some form of skin illness. This can range from rashes to wounds that just will not heal. Diseases of the liver and kidneys, which are the detoxification and filtering organs of the body, respectively, can lead to skin rashes, itchiness, and yellowing or greying of the skin.
How to Properly Diagnose Your Skin Condition
In order to identify where your skin condition may stem from, it is important to have it properly looked into. This often involves a blood test, perhaps a painless skin or nail scraping, or a more invasive skin biopsy. It is important to have this looked into in the early stages of the disease to avoid significant damage to your skin, hair, and nails which can ultimately take much longer to treat.
How You Can Treat Your Skin Conditions
The best course of treatment will largely be determined by the cause of the skin condition. Some skin conditions cannot be treated but are rather managed. Sometimes skin conditions will come and go throughout a person’s life and then one day spontaneously resolve.
Once a cause has been identified then treatment or management can be implemented. Try not to self-diagnose when it comes to skin conditions, or any other condition for that matter, as the causes can be wide and varied and best diagnosed through the eyes of someone experienced in dealing with skin conditions such as your health professional.
The flipside is that most people will benefit in terms of skin health from looking after their nutritional intake. This means ensuring you are getting enough zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, silica, antioxidants, and omega-3 fats in your diet and, if not, then consider taking a supplement of these. Looking after your kidneys by drinking enough water and looking after your liver by avoiding toxin exposure such as alcohol, excessive painkillers, cigarette smoke, and food chemicals will also ensure that you have radiant skin. Our skin is the first point of contact with our environment and the health of our skin can affect our level of well-being and confidence so it is important that we look after it.