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80-90% of the underlying causes of skin issues is due to internal factors. The other 10-20% is due to external and environmental factors (e.g. skin hygiene, sweat, products applied to the skin, clothing material, tightness of clothing, washing detergents, UV exposure, cosmetic use, occupational factors, temperature, air quality, humidity, dryness, stressors placed on the skin such as in sports). The environmental factors are often exacerbating factors to the underlying internal causes. 

When it comes to treating skin issues naturally, these are the 4 main internal factors to focus on:

1. Decrease inflammation in the body. The skin is our largest organ in the body, and it makes sense that if there is inflammation in the body, it could manifest in the skin.  Topical steroids are often used to decrease inflammation topically, however this type of treatment often becomes ineffective because the internal, underlying inflammation in the body is not being addressed.

In our society, the largest drivers of inflammation are our diet and lifestyle habits. What we do with our diet and lifestyle has a large effect on the inflammatory status of our body. Good diet and lifestyle habits decrease inflammation whereas bad habits like poor dietary choices, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, increased stress, smoking and alcohol consumption increases inflammation in the body, which can manifest in the skin.

2. Improve gut microflora balance. Our gut is lined with billions of bacteria. In the gut, there is both good and bad bacteria. The good keep the bad in check. When the good overrun the bad, due to poor diet and lifestyle habits, they release proinflammatory molecules that cause inflammation in the gut and also seep into the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body. This can manifest in the skin. This is why digestive symptoms (e.g. gas, bloating, stool issues, reflux, food intolerances and allergies) and digestive diseases (e.g. IBS, IBD, celiac) are associated with many different skin issues like acne, eczema, psoriasis etc. The link between the gut and the skin is called the gut-skin axis and it is for this reason as to why antibiotics are often used to treat skin conditions like acne. However, antibiotics often make skin issues worse because antibiotics not only kill the proinflammatory bad bacteria, they also kill the good bacteria that are anti-inflammatory and keep the bad in check, therefore exacerbating the situation in the long run. Antibiotics kill everything, they don’t discriminate.

3. Hormonal imbalances. There is a clear link in females between hormonal disruption and skin issues because hormones play such a vital role in regulating skin health. This is why women who suffer from hormonal issues such as heavy periods, painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, PMS, loos periods and irregular periods often have co-existing skin issues that are often exacerbated around their cycle. The link between hormonal health and skin is often why females are given the pill to treat their skin issues. This is often an ineffective treatment as the pill works by giving synthetic hormones to the body, hence shutting off natural hormone production. The pill does not rebalance the out of balance hormones. It just shuts them off. This means that the underlying causes of the hormone disruption are still manifesting, which is why females often experience a rebound of their symptoms when they come off the pill. It is also a reason as to why the pill can often be ineffective to even help reduce symptoms mildly. These underlying causes once again relate to diet and lifestyle habits.

4. Food allergies and intolerances are a common driving factor behind skin issues. This can be frustrating because some people may adjust their diet to a seemingly healthy, wholefood diet, yet they may not get the results they are after. This is usually because they may be reacting to certain foods/food groups that they are unaware of. 

Furthermore, food allergies and intolerances can be overwhelming because people often turn to the internet where there is a lot of misinformation/conflicting information, as well as the fact that elimination diets on the internet often tell people what not to eat, rather than what to eat. This often leaves people feeling like the diet is unsustainable.

Food allergies and intolerances relate back to the health of the bacteria in the gut, which is in turn influenced by diet and lifestyle habits. Lastly, food removal and re-introduction in the backdrop of a healthy diet is always the most effective way to identify food allergies and intolerances. 

As you can see, diet and lifestyle habits underpin the 4 main drivers of skin issues, which is why diet and lifestyle interventions, along with identifying allergies and intolerances are very effective in treating skin issues. Along with this, evidence based herbal and nutritional supplementation is very effective because it helps provide the body with nutrients needed for skin health, it helps decrease inflammation and also increases good bacteria in the gut.

If you are suffering from skin conditions such as acne, hives, eczema, psoriasis, tinea and dermatitis, call Oak Health today or book an appointment online to find out how practical, sustainable and evidence based diet and lifestyle interventions, as well as herbal and nutritional supplementation can be used to treat the underlying causes of your skin issues. You may even want to enquire about the 6 week skin health treatment program. 

For more information on Oak Health’s approach to treating skin conditions, check out the treatment page here.