The Many Functions of Skin
There are many skin concerns outside of Psoriasis and keeping our skin healthy and learning a little bit about its job in relationship to our overall health can help. Our skin is the largest organ in the human body and has many important functions. It helps regulate your body temperature, protects the body from toxins and infections, helps to eliminate toxins and it is part of who we are and how we look. Having healthy skin makes you feel less self conscious.
Our skin interacts with many things throughout the body including:
- Thyroid – Keeps skin soft & moist. Having a low thyroid can create dry skin and hair loss.
- Liver – Relates to oily skin, dry skin, skin eruptive diseases and rashes. Overall liver health in natural health is a big concern when looking at the skin. Even some studies have shown that fatty liver correlates with psoriasis and other skin issues.
- Intestinal Tract – The digestive membranes are essential for overall health and are also linked to the skin. Food allergies, leaky gut and intestinal inflammation can all contribute to skin problems.
- Kidneys – you may have heard that our skin is our “third” kidney. Poor kidney function can stress the skin and skin concerns can stress the kidneys.
- Pineal Gland – regulates skin pigment and helps with overall skin health.
- Circulation and Lymphatics – poor circulation or lymphatic drainage may cause skin problems.
This list is not all inclusive, however, it does give you an idea of how important the skin we live in is!
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that speeds up the growth of your skin. For many people this can become a chronic condition. It tends to affect 2 to 3 percent of the total population which is about 125 million people worldwide. You may notice that individuals will have thick, red covered patches of skin with silvery scales. These scales are referred to as plaques and are found to be itchy, sore, red and inflamed. Sometimes they will crack and bleed. These patches of skin are usually found on the joins, elbows or knees but can occur anywhere on the body. Psoriasis is usually associated with several other conditions including type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, heart disease, obesity, anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can have many symptoms. Below are a list of the most common ones. Please keep in mind that symptoms will vary for individuals and they often tend to come and go. At certain points your symptoms can be more severe. Other times they may barely be noticeable or appear to be gone. When the symptoms tend to become more severe, they are referred to as “flare ups” and we will discuss that later.
- Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
- Whitish-silver scales or plaques on the red patches
- Dry skin that may crack and bleed
- Soreness around the patches
- Itching and burning sensations around the patches
- Thick, pitted nails
- Painful, swollen joints
Types of Psoriasis
There are several different types. Plaque Psoriasis is the most common and found in 80% of the individuals. This is where you find the areas of red, inflamed patches that cover certain areas of the skin and have a whitish-silver scales or plaques. Guttate psoriasis is often found in young adults & children and consist of small pink spots
that usually occur as the result of a bacterial infection such as strep throat. Pustular Psoriasis is much more common in adults and that is when you might notice some white, pus-filled sore which is usually widespread or found on the hands or feet.
Inverse Psoriasis consists of bright areas of red, shiny, inflamed skin. It is often found under your armpits or breast and in the folds in the groin. This type is often triggered by fungus infections. Psoriatic Arthritis which causes swollen, painful joints which is typical of Arthritis, hence its name. With this type of arthritis, joint symptoms tend to be first and only symptom and this can actually cause damage to your joints.
What Causes Psoriasis
The medical field isn’t 100% sure on what causes it. Psoriasis is mostly linked to your immune system, genetics, and environmental factors. When we look at the autoimmune component of this, the skin cells rapidly produce, pushing to the skin’s surface where they pile up resulting in scales or plaques. Remember an autoimmune conditions refer to the situation when the body attacks itself. When I think of the body’s immune system I can’t help mentioning gut health since 70-80% of our immune system comes from the gut. As with all autoimmune conditions gut health should be addressed. Consider supporting your gut health or eliminating foods that cause allergies like dairy, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, peanuts, nightshades, chocolate, and refined sugar as well as highly processed foods full of chemical additives. You may notice an improvement in your symptoms.
It also has a small genetic component. If someone in your family has had it, you are more likely to get it. There are also environmental factors because of the toxins we are exposed to. Our skin through its glands acts as an organ of elimination, but it also acts as a great avenue for assimilation. Think about how many medications and products have patches for absorption through the skin into our bloodstream. That is why it is important to be aware of your environment and what you are putting on your skin!
I mentioned earlier that this type of concern can come and go. There are however certain things that can trigger it, making it worse. These things include stress, alcohol, injury, infections, dry cold weather, certain medications, and other health concerns including obesity, type 2 diabetes, bowel and heart diseases.
Since this is a chronic condition there is no current cure, however, reducing its symptoms are important. Treatment focuses on slowing its skin cell growth and using topical treatments including creams and ointments like coal tar, vitamin d analogues, corticosteroids, retinoids, and moisturizers. System medications are also use for those with moderate to severe symptoms needing more relief. Medications include Retinoids, Methotrexate, Cyclosporine, and Biologics. These medications due sometimes have severe side effects.
There is also Light Therapy. Getting small amounts of sunlight daily, using artificial UVB or UVA lights, may also be beneficial. Many have found cold laser therapy and far infrared therapy helpful. Many of the light therapy products are available for purchase for in home use. It has been found that using a combination of these treatments gives the best results.
Natural Tips – Keep your Skin Healthy
In natural health we say that your skin can reflect the general health of the body. Skin concerns are way more than skin deep. When looking at what ails you, you have to look at the whole picture before you can help. This skin concern is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, bowel and heart disease which isn’t an all inclusive list. So here are some tips for maintaining healthy skin and a healthy body.
- Drink Clean Water – This is super important because water helps transport nutrients, excrete wastes and can help maintain your skin’s elasticity.
- Gut Health and Digestive Health – Our gut is made up of lots of microbiome. Some of the microbiome is more beneficial to our health than others. The good guys however like to eat plenty of plants, fiber, and fermented foods. The fiber will help maintain bowel regularity and the foods will help maintain a balance between the good and not so good microbiome. You may also consider probiotics or digestive enzymes.
- Focus on Liver Health – The liver is tied to skin health, in fact, I actually found a study connecting Psoriasis to fatty liver. So make sure your liver stays healthy and clean by adding some Detox Tea to your day. Make sure your detox tea contains at least burdock root and dandelion.
- Allergies – Sometimes allergies can contribute to skin issues, so if you are dealing with allergies, try taking some herbs for support like quercetin, stinging nettle, and bromelain.
- Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome – may contribute to many skin concerns so if you are dealing with these issues, try focusing on eating healthy which may help you shed a few pounds. The Mediterranean Diet is definitely healthy eating and focuses on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, & healthy fats. This form of eating avoids processed foods, sugar, and sodas. In fact this diet has been found beneficial for type 2 diabetes, chronic pain and inflammation, and digestive and heart health.
- Manage your Stress and Support your Adrenal Glands – Managing stress is difficult in this fast paced world. Deep breathing and regular exercise are very helpful for managing it. If you are unable to exercise, check out the Chi Machine. You can also support yourself further with herbs like Ashwagandha which supports your body during the stress response. B-Complex vitamins, certain Bach Flower Remedies and Essential Oils can also help. I love to use the essential oils of Lavender, Rose, Bergamot, Vetiver, or Frankincense.
- Environmental Toxins – Focus on using natural soaps that do not strip your skin of its moisture. Also try eliminating any toxic personal care products you may be using including makeup, shampoo, and lotions. Many individuals have also found warm baths to be soothing and consider adding some redmond or bentonite clay or essential oils to your bath.
Remember you can’t buy health, you have to create through healthy lifestyle habits!
- Sunshine Sharing – Steven Horne – Chronic Skin Conditions
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