Why interest in skin health?

I usually start a page because of something I wish to say on a subject. Skin health is no exception. On thinking about it, my interest goes way beyond skin hygiene and the epidermal barrier.

My starting point into integrative medicine was the experience of a niece and subsequently one of my own offspring with food and chemical intolerance.

The niece had persistent urticaria. It was finally tracked down by a brilliant immunologist named Colin Little, to some artificial chemical in her food. Our child had been seen by an ENT surgeon who wanted to remove his tonsils. I knew from my experience that this was not warranted and we consulted the same immunologist. He found multiple food intolerances and on an elimination diet we had a dramatically healthier child.

The skin microbiome and epidermal barrier function.

The skin barrier function is turning out to be intimately connected to the skin microbiome in exact parallel to the situation in our gut. This article abstract is worth reading. It explains some of the detail.

Anti-microbial substances should have no place in our skin care. Soap should have a minimal place. Personally I use soap on my hands at the end of a day in the garden only if they are dirty. During the day I just use water. I never use soap on my body, just scrub with a face washer. I use shampoo on my hair but bend over in the shower so it doesn't run down over my body.

Xerosis cutis - rough, dry skin.

Skin health changes as we age, especially on an average diet with inadequate zinc and omega 3 fatty acid content. In the study mentioned above, dry skin improved as the Staphylococcus epidermidis was restored and possibly partly because of that restoration.

Hypothyroidism1 is a commonly unsuspected cause. Never put anything down to aging without thorough investigation first.

A friend Vicki Sheffield4 installed a water filter for their entire home water supply and noted a striking improvement in her dry skin with the chlorine removed. We have a filter just in our shower.

I used to swim at lunchtime and would have a quick shower at the pool before returning to work. That evening I would shower again and could immediately smell the chlorine from the swimming pool again. It definitely sticks to the skin and is not good for it.

Dry skin cracks and itches.

In young people this is likely to be due to atopy2, with associated eczema, hay fever or asthma.

There is considerable overlap in the nerve function between pain and itch.3 One expects cracks to hurt but these little ones are associated with itch. Glycerin is a good moisturizer. Dilute it with plenty of water so it isn't sticky, leave in a bowl and as you go past it, just pick up some on your hand and spread it over any itchy skin. Let it soak into the epidermis and dry on the skin.

Our skin mirrors our insides.

While on the subject of itch, at times wheat makes me itch between my toes, but nowhere else and not very often. My toes are acting like yellow canaries, telling me to be careful re wheat.

Sayer Ji has good articles on wheat at Green Med Info.5

Develop good habits early in life

I see elderly people with blepharitis (inflamed eyelids) and intertrigo (inflamed skin folds) due to inadequate hygene. They usually just use their hands to wash themselves in the shower and use soap.

Ideally people would have long ago developed a habit of scrubbing across the eyelids and along skin creases (behind ears, in groins, under breasts etc) without soap and with a face washer.

References for skin health page

1. Page on thyroid medicine.

2. What Is Atopic Dermatitis? Fast Facts

3. Basic Mechanisms of Itch.

4. Vicki and Laurie Sheffield ran a health food shop in Ballarat for many years and helped lots of people. Laurie built his own audio equipment including speakers - very impressive skills.

5. The Dark Side of Wheat - New Perspectives On Celiac Disease and Wheat Intolerance.

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