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How Do I Heal My Skin?Acne, Hives, Rosacea, Eczema and Keratosis Pilaris

Updated: Feb 1, 2023




The answer might surprise you...


Welcome to the Gut Honest Truth blog where a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner gives you digestible information to tackle your chronic health concerns.


That’s me, Katie Morra; and in this blog I am going to talk about five common skin conditions today (Acne, Hives, Rosacea, Eczema and Keratosis Pilaris aka chicken skin), what triggers each and how to start supporting your healing journey.


And as always, working one-on-one for your specific needs is always our top recommendation, check out our appointment options to get started with one of our licensed health care professionals today.


If you’ve been struggling with a skin condition or skin rash, it’s likely that you’ve been given countless topical medication prescriptions. You may have even tried some over the counter products like alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and possibly they helped your skin slightly but nothing has been long lived. That’s not to say they’re not an effective treatment plan for some people, but the creams aren’t usually solving the root problem, simply offering temporary relief to flare ups.


Our skin is a mirror of our internal health. Meaning, an outward presentation on your skin is often a direct reflection of an inner imbalance.


Top Contributors to Common Skin Conditions:

  • Food sensitivities

  • Gut health

  • Stress/trauma

  • Genetics

  • Hormone imbalances

  • Environmental toxicities

  • Nutrient deficiencies

You don’t always have to be subjected to an untreatable, life altering skin problem covered by ointments and steroids. As you will soon uncover, there are a lot of lifestyle modifications one can make to have a significant shift in their skin health. There are also areas you can work with a practitioner to dig a little deeper with testing to uncover the root of dysfunction.


Rosacea

What is it?

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes reddened skin and visible blood vessels on the face.Though not always, it can be accompanied by acne. It’s often classified as flushing, persistent redness, bumps, pimples, and visible blood vessels (spider veins) of the face. Frequent triggers and causes of rosacea that have been prevalent in the research include:


Potential root causes?

What else can trigger a flare?


Intense exercise- the body usually has a sweet spot for exercise tolerance and those with rosacea can experience flares when intensity is more than the body can handle.

Makeup- the skin has its own microbiome and chemicals that interfere with its balance can cause irritation.

Food triggers- fermented or spicy foods, and food sensitivities are common causes for rosacea.

Alcohol- increases the production of inflammatory cytokines which signal widening of the vessels. This can mean more blood flow to the face, worsening rosacea.

Environmental triggers- sun, wind, and heat are known to increase severity in many patients with rosacea .

Inflammation- systemic inflammation forces the body to compensate, often in an outward representation on your skin.


Keratosis Pilaris

What is it?

Keratosis Pilaris, also known as chicken skin, is the clinical label for skin bumps on the back of the arms. It’s due to an excess of keratin (a protein) and dead skin cells that accumulate within the hair follicle, causing irritation and inflammation.


As a result, the skin bulges, giving it the hallmark bumpy texture. Although it typically manifests as small bumps on the back of the upper arms and front of the thigh, it can appear on the butt and face (cheeks) as well.


Potential root causes?

Eczema

What is it?

Atopic Dermatitis, or eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that has been largely attributed to abnormalities in the adaptive immune system. It’s characterized by impaired epidermal (skin) barrier function, sensitization to food and environmental allergens, and pruritus (the desire to scratch).


Your skin has its own microbiome, and just like your gut, it can become too permeable. Leaky skin creates an opportunity for foreign items (food particles, bacteria, yeast, viruses, etc.) to enter your body and trigger your immune system, resulting in an increased susceptibility to skin infections, irritability, water loss, and altered sweat delivery to the skin’s surface. Your skin surface is designed to protect you, but when it’s compromised, it can’t perform effectively.


Potential root causes?

Urticaria/ Hives

What is it?

Urticaria, or chronic hives, are flesh colored welts that are the result of an inflammatory immune response. In this response, chemicals called histamines are released underneath the lining of the skin, which irritate nerve endings, causing swelling and itching. There are actually several classifications of hives, but in order to properly treat them, you need to know 𝘄𝗵𝘆 they’re occurring in the first place.


Potential root causes?

Acne

What is it?

Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition that occurs as the result of inflamed or infected sebaceous glands in the skin; and is generally characterized by red pimples on the face. Acne vulgaris tends to appear around the T zone, whereas acne conglobata seems to appear along the lower half of the face, jawline, chest, neck, back, and shoulders.


Acne conglobata is the clinical term for cystic acne, and is characterized by large, hard raised bumps under the skin that may never form into a pimple. This form penetrates deeper into the skin layers, often painful to the touch, and lasts for weeks to months.


Potential root causes?

Gut health- Disruptions to your gut integrity (SIBO, dysbiosis, IBS, etc.) can impact the health of your skin. Your gut is responsible for nutrient absorption & an inability to properly digest food means you can’t absorb the nutrients needed for skin health (like vitamins A,D,E & K; protein; and fatty acids). It can increase inflammation, insulin resistance, and stress which all directly impact your skin as well.


Food sensitivities- How your body identifies and reacts to foods can be a direct implication on your skin. If your body recognizes a food as inflammatory, it will respond with a cascade of hormones and cytokines to try to mitigate the problem. This often leads to a reaction on your skin somewhere.


Stress- Chronic stress can increase levels of stress-related hormones (like cortisol) and send sebaceous (oil) glands into overdrive. This allows dead skin cells to pile up, creating an environment for a break out. When the skin is stressed, it loses its ability to protect itself because its barrier is compromised. Cortisol also lowers natural production of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and healthy lipids like ceramide.


Hormonal Changes- Elevated testosterone, estrogen, and androgens tend to be the culprits for “hormonal acne” and can be managed well with proper support for your individual needs.


Skin care- If you haven’t heard of it already, check EWG’s website to cross-check the quality of the things you’re putting on your skin. Remember, what we put ON our skin holds the same weight as what we put IN our bodies… It’s still getting absorbed and processed through similar pathways. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/


Other things to consider?

Cheeks- Hormones, food triggers, detergent. How often do you clean your bedding and with what products?


Hairline- What hair care products am I using? A lot of products on the market aren’t the best quality and may be contributing to clogged pores, causing irritation.


Jawline- Excess androgens, gut health, menstrual cycle, fatigue, and stress.


  • Comprehensive stool testing

  • SIBO breath testing

  • Histamine levels

  • Food sensitivity testing

  • Total Toxic Burden testing

  • DUTCH hormone testing

  • Advanced Micronutrient testing

As you can see, skin health is a bit complicated but you deserve a thoughtful investigation and strategic treatment approach. If you’re looking for an even deeper dive regarding your skin health, I have a podcast episode where I get into some of the fine details.


If you’re tired of listening and just want to do something to get to the root of it all, find a time that works best for you in the “work with us” tab on our website and let’s get to healing!

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