As the cooler weather rolls around, skin concerns seem to become more frequent in clinic, with the change in temperature and humidity making our skin drier, more inflamed and often more susceptible to flare ups and break outs. Of course, when it comes to natural medicine, Naturopaths are determined to find the driving cause of any health condition and treat the skin from the inside out!
Some key general tips and tricks for keeping the skin looking healthy and radiant through the cooler months include:
- keeping well hydrated
- increasing your intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids (I’m a BIG fan of algal oil for the skin!)
- using a good quality collagen powder (NB: please don’t use a cheap supermarket brand that is filled with additives and the source of collagen isn’t labelled)
- keeping up your exercise and regular sweating
- focusing on good fats and protein at every meal
- enjoying a strongly brewed cup of dandelion root tea for liver support!
For more persistent and inflammatory skin conditions, thorough investigating and individualised treatments are key and will get you long-lasting results. A few skin conditions I see regularly in clinic are; acne, eczema or psoriasis and keratosis pilaris, and while everyone needs individualised care when it comes to the driving factors behind their skin condition, there are common themes that guide our treatment approach.
x Keratosis pilaris – a common condition that causes those dry, rough patches and tiny white or red bumps on the skin, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. Key nutrients needed to clear this skin condition are vitamin A, omega 3 essential fatty acids and it often responds well to a gluten-free diet.
x Acne – This well-known condition can affect adults, pregnant women and of course teens, and is usually caused by a combination of factors. There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ approach when it comes to successfully treating acne; some cases are predominately driven by hormonal imbalance, others by poor diet, insulin resistance or imbalanced gut bacteria, with increasing evidence pointing to a strong link between acne and SIBO. Treating the gut, and ensuring detoxification channels are well-supported, is often the pillar of acne treatment. Other key treatment areas look at reducing inflammation, balancing hormones, fixing the diet and using key nutrients in therapeutic doses such as zinc, vitamin A and omega 3’s.
x Eczema – Many eczema sufferers find the colder weather causes their skin to flare up. Winter in particular can be problematic with the dry, cold temperatures outside as well as the dry, heated indoor environments further aggravating that compromised skin barrier. When it comes to eczema, it’s important to work out if there are any food intolerances or environmental triggers that drive flare-up’s, as you’ll want to avoid these whilst you work on healing the gut and supporting key nutrients such as zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C and omega 3’s. Doing a food intolerance test is a useful and easy way to find out if any foods in particular are aggravating the gut and immune system, and driving the eczema flares. Topical treatment with eczema through the cooler months is vital, but won’t fix the problem!