Eczema, psoriasis, acne and skin rashes: why do my skin issues keep coming back?

Your skin is the largest detox organ in your body, and a reflection of your inner health. Eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin conditions often signal an imbalance in gastrointestinal health, immune dysfunction, toxic load, infection, and/or nutrient deficiencies.

With chronic flare-ups and inflammation, the integrity of your skin is implicated. With repeated breaks in your skin’s barrier, the area is more susceptible to allergens, infections, and water loss – all of which can make the disease worse. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

Skin problems: why a quick-fix is not a long-term solution

Do topical corticosteroids, antibiotics or anti-fungals work? Yes and no. When applied, they work well to calm skin inflammation. However, these are often only for short term use due to unwanted side-effects and undesirable alterations in the body’s function that may become permanent.

For example, in many cases when topical steroid creams are stopped, you may experience a ‘rebound reaction,’ where the inflammatory skin disease becomes worse than before its use. With repeated applications, thinning of the skin can occur, as well as easier bruising, enlarged blood vessels, and increased hair thickness in the area.

In the short term, antibiotics can also work well, but they can also result in worsening symptoms once they’re stopped. If an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria plays a part, eliminating them may temporarily improve symptoms. However, antibiotics kill indiscriminately. The beneficial bacteria in your gut will likely be wiped out as well, leaving it open for easy colonization by pathogenic bacteria after antibiotics are stopped.

There is a time and a place for quick fixes, but if skin issues keep reoccurring, we recommend you dig deeper to discover the root causes.

Skin problems: the causes of skin disease

Much like fixing a water leak in your home, patching the place you see the water dripping out seems like the easiest solution. However, the real problem often lies deeper in the pipes and in the foundations. While patching up the surface leaks as you find them might give temporarily relief, the problems in the pipes deeper down need to be investigated or more leaks will continue to happen.

Causes of skin issues may include:

  • Leaky gut. Often, the source of the ‘leak’ – your skin issues – is related to the digestive tract. Recurrent infections, inflammation, and food sensitivities can damage your gut lining, leading to a ‘leaky gut.’ When the tight junctions between cells in your digestive tract are compromised, permeability between cells is increased. This means allergens and bacterial antigens can easily pass through where they shouldn’t, leading to inflammation, heightened immune response and infection.
  • Skin bacteria. Your skin also has a large variety of bacteria colonizing it, and this microbiome is connected to the types that are in the gut. When there’s an imbalance of the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria/fungus, the tight junctions in the skin can similarly be compromised.
  • Immune system. Your immune system is also closely related to the skin and digestive tract, and therefore a part of the ‘piping system’ that needs to be investigated. In fact, your skin’s immune system is full of immune components that are important for protecting the body as a barrier, and for fighting off infectious pathogens. Normally, inflammation plays a large role in the healing and defense of the body since it brings the necessary factors and cells to the site. However, when there’s an imbalance in the regulatory cells, the inflammation signal is unable to be turned off. Often with skin rashes, dysregulation in the balance between the types of immune actions protecting the body occurs, as one side is too stimulated, and one side suppressed, leading to provocation at the slightest stimulus.
  • Toxic overload. Sometimes, skin disorders occur because there’s too much input for your system to handle, causing it to overflow. Overloading your body with pollutants from the environment, toxins from food or medication, stressful events, negative emotions and more can impede the healing process and become part of the problem. Your skin is one of the organs that helps clear waste, and recurrent skin rashes can be a sign that there’s a blockage in the detox system.
  • Emotional health. Holistic healing isn’t just for the physical body. Your emotional and psychological well-being are also very connected to physical symptoms. Imbalances in your physical body are often a reflection of imbalances in the other realms of your health, so there is almost always a deep emotional component to skin issues. When there is no way to express suppressed emotions and pain, skin can be one of the facets the body chooses to manifest these feelings.Scientifically, more and more research is being done on the gut-brain axis – a communication system between the central nervous system and the nervous system in the digestive tract. For example, serotonin, a neurotransmitter used in the brain often known as ‘the happy chemical,’ is actually mostly produced in the gastrointestinal tract. In the central nervous system, this chemical plays a large role regulating emotions, stress, sleep and appetite. That’s one of the reasons why imbalances in digestive health can impact emotions and vice versa.

Skin problems: how to improve skin long-term

Test, don’t guess. Testing for basic physiological imbalances, infections and food sensitivities can help to pinpoint the exact causes of your skin issues. Once we know the culprits, we can put in place a holistic, sustainable solution to re-balance your body for long-lasting health and rash-free skin. While the road to recovery can take a few months, patients often report healthier, clearer skin in just a few weeks after starting treatment.

References

  1. Fukaya M, Sato K, Sato M. Topical steroid addiction in atopic dermatitis. Drug HealthcPatient Saf. 2014;6:131-138.
  2. van den Elsen LW, Poyntz HC, Weyrich LS, et al. Embracing the gut microbiota: the new frontier for inflammatory and infectious diseases. Clin Transl Immunology. 2017;6(1):e125.
  3. Parodi A, Paolini S, Greco A, et al. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in rosacea: clinical effectiveness of its eradication. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;6(7):759–764.
  4. Al-Ghazzewi FH, Tester RF. Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health. Benef Microbes. 2014;5(2):99–107.
  5. Quaresma, J.A.S. Organization of the Skin Immune System and Compartmentalized Immune Responses in Infectious Diseases. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2019: 32(4): 1-34

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