Skin Problems: How you can find the cause of your skin problem
Posted Jan 26 2009 5:00pm
You may have skin that is itchy, irritated, sensitive, or burning, you've tried everything and you may even have sought medical help. But no matter what you do, nothing seems to make any difference. Now what?
What can you do? How can you find a solution to the skin problem you’ve been battling with for months or even years?
Well, there are quite a number of things you may not have thought about. Ask yourself these questions:
How long has this problem existed?
Did I change anything around the time this problem started? For example:
Did you change the soap you’re using, or the washing powder?
Go on a diet? Started using a new perfume?
Did you have a medical problem at that time? Or change medication?
Take on a job with more responsibility and stress?
Does anything you do make the skin problem worse or better?
Does weather have an influence?
Do you come in contact with potentially toxic chemicals on a daily or regular basis?
Every single day we expose ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, to literally thousands of different chemicals. These chemicals can be as inert as Water (hydrogen and oxygen) or as potentially poisonous as lead, or many other potentially harmful chemical compounds.
We find potentially toxic chemicals everywhere from food and food additives to cosmetics, from air pollutants to bacteria. The list is endless as are the potential effects to the health of our skin.
Skin disorders will affect most of us at some point in our lives. Acne is a very common teenage skin condition almost everybody has to deal with at some time. Women entering menopause commonly experience middle age acne. Men often have blackheads and other rashes often associated with the type of work environment they find themselves in. People with diseases such as diabetes may suffer from skin ulcers or other skin afflictions.
Our skin is a very complex and important organ and needs to be cared for just like any other organ if we want it to perform at its best. Unlike our other organs however, the skin is at the frontline of defence and forms a physical barrier between our inside and the outside environment. It is in this outside environment we encounter many potentially harmful chemicals and often our skin, particularly sensitive skin, will be adversely effected by some of the chemicals it is exposed to.
Which chemicals will cause you problems will depend on your particular skin’s sensitivity. Some people will react to contact with certain metals, others won’t, but they may react to the caustic in soap, or some additive or colour in make-up, shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, skin care products, food colouring, flavouring, preservatives or even foods such as the humble strawberry.
There are even less obvious reasons as to why skin problems may occur. For example, if you use commercially available soap to wash your skin, you will almost certainly destroy your protective acid mantel of your skin, resulting in a change of the pH of your skin. This leaves your skin wide open to being affected by bacteria or other pathogens. As a result you may end up getting some sort of skin infection and wonder why.
In addition, there are other factors such as stress, which has a very strong effect on the health of your skin. Dry, sensitive and itchy skin is very often associated with high stress levels and if these are sustained, they can cause skin problems such as dermatitis/eczema.
Finally, but not less important, the amount of water you drink will either positively or negatively affect your skin. Your skin is dependant on sufficient levels of water for hydration and cell function. If you do not drink sufficient quantities of water, your skin will not be provided with adequate amounts and thus your skin will become dehydrated. Again, this will leave your skin more sensitive and vulnerable to attack from pathogens, and your skin will be more sensitive to various chemicals.
It is widely accepted that we need to consume at least 8 glasses of water. This is approximately equivalent to 2 litres of water. Less than this amount will invariably lead to dehydration and this will be reflected in the health of your skin. Coffee, ordinary tea and alcohol are no substitute for water and or fruit/vegetable juices. Coffee and non-herbal tea will rob your body of more water than these drinks contain, leaving you with a deficit of water. Furthermore, alcohol is known to dehydrate the body and this is not the aim we are trying to achieve.
Similarly, the foods you eat may or may not provide you with all the necessary nutrients your skin needs to retain its health. Vitamin and Essential fatty acids need to be consumed and absorbed in sufficient amounts for your skin to stay healthy and perform its vital functions adequately. The less processed foods you eat the better and the more variety your diet has the better your chances are that you are getting the nutrients your body and skin needs. Don’t skimp on the quality of the food you buy, you’ll pay for it one-way or the other.
So take a close look at what has changed in your life at around the time you started noticing the problem with your skin. Take a look at the stresses in your life and see if these started to increase at about the time you first noticed a change in the health of your skin. Ask yourself - do you really drink enough water every day? Chances are you’re not, but measure it, analyse it, make sure. Does it really ad up to 2 litres a day, every day? Look at the foods you eat, are they highly processed or as fresh and natural as if you just got them from your garden?
With a little effort and patience you should be able to identity one or more possible causes of your skin problem. Eliminating these and observing resulting changes or lack thereof in your skin will soon tell you what is possibly causing or contributing to your skin condition. Be patient, change one thing at a time and give your body enough time to react, then, if this did not work change the next thing, give it time and watch for results. Keep doing this until you notice a change.
Try to remove as many chemicals as possible from your day-to-day life. Use natural skin care and other products that use 100% natural ingredients as much as possible. While this is not a guarantee that you may not be allergic to a natural substance, it is more likely that some man-made synthetic chemical, rather than a naturally occurring one, is causing your skin problem.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.