Inflammation is a problem which shows up in the skin, but which can imply inflammation in the rest of the body. How do you know your skin is inflamed? The characteristics of inflammation are swelling, itching, pain, heat, and redness. If you have any or all of those issues, your skin is inflamed. What causes the skin to get inflamed?
Lets take an example of Atopic eczema. In this condition the skin gets dry, red, and itchy in patches. Most commonly the inner part of the elbows and knees, the neck and face, but almost any area of the skin can be affected.
The common approach to treating Atopic eczema is to give anti-inflammatory steroid creams, hydrating lotions, and anti-itching pills and creams. These interventions suppress the symptoms and the rash subsides while the creams are being used, but the rashes always come back because the cause has not been discovered or treated and chronic use of steroid creams can cause thinning of the skin and stretch marks, as well as adrenal fatigue.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE, WHICH WE SHOULD BE TREATING?
There are many causes, and they all work together to cause the condition. Atopic eczema is an allergic condition caused by an upset in the immune system where there is an imbalance in the antibody producing TH-2 (too much) and the cellular immunity TH-1 (too little). When the cellular immunity is impaired, people with eczema tend to get skin viruses such as warts and molluscum. The condition is often associated in patients or family members with inflammatory systemic problems such as asthma and/or allergies.
The causes of the immune deficiencies and inflammation can be food allergies, fatty acid (omega-3) deficiencies, and dysbiosis (inflammation in the digestive tract caused by bad bacteria and yeasts.) The skin is a barrier to the entrance of chemicals and microbes into the body, but in eczema, the barrier can be lost, causing the skin to dry out and crack. The skin that lines the bowel also must maintain a barrier between the bloodstream and the contents of the bowel (which is really the external environment).
Therefore, seeing eczema patches on the external skin can give us a clue to the health of the gut. When partially digested food particles pass through an inflamed, “leaky gut” into the blood stream, an immune response ensues, setting off this imbalance. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish or flax oil are anti-inflammatory. Eating too much meat, dairy, and refined grain products can cause too much inflammatory omega-6, setting up an inflammatory condition.