Dermatology and neuroanatomy were some of the most difficult courses in medical school. Regardless, I found dermatology captivating. The skin is such a complex organ,…yes…ORGAN. It’s technically our largest organ and hands-down the only visible organ. Unlike our other organs that require medical imaging to see what’s going on…the skin happily presents itself to the visible eye. And yet, it is still unbelievably complex to decipher the underlying causes from one rash, infection, dry patch, or bump to another. As our professors used to say, “skin conditions are rarely a textbook case.”
If making a correct diagnosis is challenging, how can we treat the skin? Thankfully, the toolbox of a Naturopathic Doctor does not require a definitive diagnosis to begin treatment. Here’s my personal approach to skin conditions:
Address Digestion: The skin is a great representative of what’s actually happening on the inside. If my patient presents with bloating or IBS of any kind, we 100% begin with gut healing before anything else. And to no surprise of my own, when bloating decreases, as do skin flares in nearly 70% of cases. The biggest culprits to healthy skin include: Dairy, gluten, sugar, refined white carbs, and processed oils. Changing the diet is HUGE…but sometimes the gut needs some extra “oomph” to help the healing process. I typically prescribe a combination of herbs and nutrients along with a high quality probiotic for most cases. If you are struggling with an autoimmune version of skin conditions (ie psoriasis, Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto's, lupus, Grave's, celiac, scleroderma…) then my all-time favorite supplement is Mega IgG2000 to help regulate the immune system from the inside out. Many of my patients can’t live a high quality life without it.
Nurture the Stress: It’s just a plain fact at this point. Skin conditions get worse with stress. Acne around exams and life crisis? Terrible. Psoriasis after a tumultuous family reunion or sleep deficiency? Flared. As an ND, I’m able to prescribe herbal tinctures and supplements that help with anxiety and stress BUT, it’s a bandaid at the end of the day just like an anxiolytic pharmaceutical. A counselor, on the other hand, can offer empowerment or a fresh perspective that is more of a longterm fix.
Love the Hormones: Is your skin flaring cyclicly? Start tracking! Especially if you are a female, it’s no surprise if you notice that your skin flares occur between ovulation till day one of your menses. If this sounds familiar, you can spend thousands of dollars of skincare products to no avail. We’ve got to get your hormones regulated! This can be tricky so I’d recommend getting a naturopathic doctor on your team to do it well. However, some tips and tricks to get you started include: Ridding of all things plastic and swapping to glass and metal containers, trial high dosing vitamin B6 and the herb Vitex agnus castus for three months to see if you notice a difference, and increase your steamed dark leafy greens and flaxseed to help balance estrogen.
Apply a Topical: Everyone’s favorite go-to and ultimately the last part of my treatment plan. America is obsessed with topicals. Did you know that American's pay an average of $200 of cosmetic products annually? For topicals, there’s not a one size fits all for skin conditions. However, I have found a correlation in groups of conditions for topicals that work: GentleDerm has been a life saver for many of my patients with eczema and psoriasis. Consistent facials with routine natural topicals works wonders for acne. And for dry skin, a simple application of castor oil immediately after showers locks in moisture like non-other. Just promise me you won’t drink it unless you’re hoping for explosive diarrhea.
That’s all for now friends. Until next month,
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these pos