When skin complaints such as redness, raised bumps & lumps, itchy & dry skin, and weeping skin occurs, it can be debilitating. Along with personal discomfort and the burden of constant irritating symptoms, skin problems often affect your ability to go to school or work, meet your social and family commitments, and partake in favourite sporting activities and hobbies (1). Adding to this frustration, skin symptoms can differ greatly from person to person. For some people, symptoms are constant and flare up or get worse from time to time, whereas for others symptoms appear out of the blue, with no obvious set pattern or cycle (2).
When redness, bumps, dryness & itchiness persist, consider consulting a qualified Naturopath. Given the variety of causes and types of skin conditions, it can often take time to come to a definite diagnosis. This can mean people have seen multiple practitioners before they come to see a Naturopath – as their symptoms don’t seem to fit a specific diagnosis or their symptoms cannot be related to a specific cause (2; 3) So why are Naturopaths different to other practitioners? They spend the time to understand you and your symptoms, including your personal and environmental history, in order to get to the root of your skin condition. They also spend time looking for patterns and the cause of your ailment, all the while working toward a plan to improve the health of your underlying body systems. In essence, a Naturopath works on the idea that your skin condition is not an island, but a sign of deeper health issues – and works to improve the health of you as a whole person (5).
Let’s take a look at 3 ways your naturopath will assist in reducing your red and itchy skin symptoms:
Tracking your skin complaints to get to the root cause
Is your skin only affected during the summer months, when you are on holidays or when you don’t get a good night’s sleep? Was it worse during your house move, or when you were struggling with workplace or relationship stress? The how and when of your skin symptoms is the first step to sorting out whether it is your external or internal environment that is causing your irritation and deciding on a course of care – which is where the help of a qualified naturopath comes in. To help you track your symptoms to their root cause and find the patterns, seeking naturopathic advice can be of assistance (5).
Understanding how stress, diet & hormones can affect your skin
Even though your skin is on the outside of your body, it is greatly affected by what is going on in the inside. How your body experiences stress, some foods, and hormonal changes can all be catalysts for skin issues. For some, stress hormones initiate an immune response in the body that inflames and aggravates your skin. For others, intolerances to some foods (like nightshade family fruits such as capsicums and tomatoes) can trigger a similar response when eaten in large amounts or often. And yet for others, hormonal fluctuations (particularly for women during their menstrual cycle and during their pre-menopausal and post-menopausal years) aggravate the skin, leading to dry and inflammatory skin complaints (3).
Prescribing anti-itch herbs like Calendula (Calendula officinalis) & Albizzia (Albizzia lebbek)
When professionally prescribed, specific herbal medicines can be extremely supportive and nourishing for skin conditions. Two such herbs are Calendula & Albizzia. Calendula (a common member of the Marigold family) has been used for centuries in the treatment of a wide range of dermatological (skin) disorders. Used both externally (directly on the skin as a herbal cream) and internally (as a herbal tincture or tea) the large orange/yellow flowers of the Calendula officinalis plant works as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and wound healer (1; 3). Albizzia (a tree native to tropical and sub-tropical regions) has been used in western and eastern herbal medicine traditions as an anti-allergic herb, working particularly in reducing inflammation and allergic responses in the skin. Taken in herbal tincture or tablet form, Albizzia helps to reduce the redness and irritation that comes with some skin conditions (4).
If you would like to know more about what is causing your skin complaints and have a supportive and personalised remedy prescribed for your individual needs, consider a consultation with myself or one of our qualified team of Naturopaths at Brisbane Livewell Clinics.