Our skin is incredibly important as it acts as our first defense against the outside world. On a daily basis we put it through a lot of abuse from weather, cosmetics, and all the rest.
Unfortunately, over time many people develop skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and dry itchy skin. People often try everything to get rid of these conditions, from oatmeal to salves and creams.
But while many of those solutions do provide some temporary relief, it’s important to address the underlying cause. Luckily, though skin conditions can have wide ranging symptoms, they often share a few common underlying causes.
4 Common Causes and Triggers of Skin Conditions
There are certain foods in our diet that trigger skin issues. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are at the top of the list.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates (which get broken down into sugars) increase insulin surges in the body, which can bind receptors on sebaceous glands in the skin. This can increase sebum production, making the skin more oily, and contributing to conditions like acne.
Dairy consumption can also be problematic for people with skin conditions, especially because of some of the hormones found in milk and milk products. Some of the hormones found in dairy products affect the proper functioning of the sebaceous glands, worsening some skin conditions.
If you suffer from acne, dry skin, or eczema, try cutting out sugar and dairy for a few weeks to see if they may be one of your triggers.
Fluctuations in hormones can lead to a variety of skin conditions, including acne, oily skin, and dry itchy skin. In particular, highs and lows in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can aggravate or cause oily skin and acne. Thyroid hormone disruptions can lead to severely dry skin or oily skin.
Drinking enough water is often overlooked but can be a very easy fix for people experiencing extremely dry skin. A large proportion of our body is made up of water and our skin is no exception.
Without adequate water, our skin becomes dehydrated, dry, and more prone to damage (including wrinkles). Caffeine is dehydrating, so drinking excess caffeine, like black tea and coffee, can make the problem even worse.
You should focus on drinking 1-2 liters of water a day, and for every cup of black tea or coffee you drink, try to replace it with 2 cups of water.
4. Gut Health
Many skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne can in fact be related to the health of your gut. Poor digestive function, which includes your stomach, liver, pancreas, and large and small intestines, can lead to chronic skin issues.
For one thing, the majority of our immune system is controlled by our gut microflora. Altered gut microflora can be the reason for autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, or conditions which are linked to food sensitivities, like eczema and acne.
Poor gut function leads to poor nutrient absorption from our food. We need many nutrients for healthy skin such as B- vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. Without adequate digestive function, we may be unable to breakdown our foods and properly use these nutrients for healthy skin.
If you suffer from a skin condition, speak to your healthcare provider to assess whether your diet, lifestyle, hormones, or your digestive function can be making the problem worse.
Pizzorno J, Murray, M. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th Ed. Churchill Livingstone. 2012.
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