Treating Skin Conditions

Posted on August 5, 2010 - 1 Comment

As with most health issues there are generalities that apply to most cases, and the exceptions that are more complicated to solve. Here, as usual, we will address the generalities.


Generally a skin problem will be caused by two main factors: something on the surface of the skin causing the disorder, such as bacteria, fungus or skin mites; or something toxic inside the body trying come out through the skin. This toxic substance can also be a result of individual allergic responses, so that it may not be toxic to one person, but will be so to another.


The most dangerous approach to treating skin disorders is the use of cortisone creams. While cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can occasionally be of short-term benefit, its consistent use has two drawbacks. It will thin the skin over time, weakening its integrity, but even worse, if the body is try to expel something the cortisone will push it back into the body, allowing it to accumulate below the surface, possibly leading to worse health issues down-line.


Our first approach to a skin problem is to ensure that one is getting the basic skin nutrients. These include vitamins A (at least 10,000 iu daily; also helpful when used topically), C (at least 3000 mg daily) and D (2,000 iu daily), and the Omega 3 fatty acids (a teaspoon of fish oil or a tablespoon of flax oil). Psoriasis is usually related to fatty acid deficiency, but can also be helped by high levels of vitamin D (5,000 iu daily).


For cases of acne, which can be hormonal related, much success has been obtained by using high levels of vitamin A (30,000 iu to 50,000 iu for a month) and zinc (30 to 50 mg for a month). For young women with skin problems, who also have PMS, Evening Primrose oil can be helpful (3000 mg daily). Remember to skip weekends with these protocols and to reduce dosage once relief has been obtained.


Next I will suggest the use of a topical substance that will kill bacteria and fungus. Skin mites are more difficult to deal with, though these substances can work in mild cases. Mites are usually obtained through intimate contact with pets. Good substances to play with (usually in diluted form: follow instructions on label) include Tea Tree oil, Colloidal Silver, Neem oil, Oregano oil and Grapefruit seed extract. Neem oil would be my first choice as it covers the broadest range of skin conditions, and Neem leaf can be used internally, in capsule form, for further support.


If we notice an improvement with these approaches, then we know we are on the right track. If we don’t notice an improvement, then we have to look at what’s going on inside the body. The first and most obvious approach is to bring the diet into normal healthy range and spend 10 to 14 days on a detoxification program. There are kits available in health food stores that come with diet plans that will serve this function nicely. They will speed up the cleansing of the blood, liver and bowel so that after a couple weeks we should see an improvement in skin conditions, if this is the main cause of the problem.


Certain herbs are good blood-cleansers and can be used on a semi-regular basis to keep the blood clean, leaving no toxins to be excreted through the skin. Blood-cleaning herbs include Echinacea, Burdock, Red Clover and Goldenseal. Acidophilus, or “friendly- bacteria”, should be used regularly to keep the bowel clean, which in turn keeps the blood clean.


If this is not noticeable at improving skin health then we have to dig deeper, and it becomes more of a challenge. At this point we need to discover the particular villain plaguing this individual. I suggest starting with the Blood-type diet since very common, otherwise healthful-foods, can cause inflammation, poor digestion and insulin spikes (also linked to skin problems), in certain blood types. For information on this diet see “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Dr. Peter D’Adamo.


For some blood types, meat will contribute to acne-like symptoms, since these types (A and AB) are low in the stomach- acids required to properly digest animal protein. For other blood types (B and O) a vegetarian diet might worsen a skin condition because their higher protein requirements are not being met, and the skin does not have enough protein to properly repair itself. Try following your blood type diet for at least a month to see if it helps.


After this, one resorts to a food diary and an elimination of the most commonly offensive allergens: eggs, soy, milk products, wheat and gluten containing foods. Eczema is most commonly linked to these allergies. This approach is the most difficult, as it requires a close observance of ones’ diet and corresponding changes in the skin. But it does have the advantage of often leading to an improvement in general health, when the offending foods are finally identified and eliminated from the diet.


Remember to eat organic whenever possible as I have seen one case of bad skin lesions in a couple who where eating too much Mexican fruit one summer and were literally dumping pesticides out of their skin (see Newsletter: Why Organic?).


Now there are also certain modern aspects of day-to-day life that need to be addressed. We wash too much. And we wash with hot water that leaves the pores expanded and open to picking up contaminants from the environment (a cold water rinse afterwards will close the pores back down). This water contains chlorine, which kills good bacteria on your skin. Then we use a detergent (soap) that strips the acid- mantle (surface “friendly-bacteria?) off of our skin, leaving it defenseless against topical invaders.


I often recommend clients to use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap which, being made from vegetable oil and potassium solution, claims to help re-establish the acid-mantle on the skin. The constant use of soaps and sun blocks also reduce our vitamin D intake dramatically, and a lot of vitamin D is stored in the skin to protect the body against surface invasion by bacteria, etc.


On top of these issues we have the added insult of commercial laundry detergents, which can leave chemical residues in clothing and on towels triggering symptoms from itching to inflammation of the skin. And cosmetics, including moisturizers and anti-aging creams, are often chemical soups that do more harm than good. I personally like to use pure Jojoba oil, which mimics the body’s naturally sebum oils, and fortify it with a capsule of vitamin A, or E, or rose hip seed or seabuckthorn oil.


This approach requires no chemical agents, including no preservatives. These soothing and rebuilding agents can serve to mitigate the symptoms of inflammation while we try to discover the causes. Other helpful topical soothing agents include Aloe Vera Juice and Calendula oil or cream.

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