5 things a dermatologist might not tell you

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When you notice something wrong with your skin (like a mole that has suddenly appeared or discolored patch of skin), your first thought will be to call your dermatologist and make an appointment.  But, one thing we forget is there could be something else going on – below the skin.   As naturopathic physician Dr. Cates told msn, “Most dermatologists aim to suppress skin symptoms,” says Cates. “But those symptoms can be signs of imbalances elsewhere,” she says.

According to recent research, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut can lead to a leaky lining in your intestines.  A leaky lining in your intestines can cause toxins to be released into your bloodstream which causes inflammation in your entire body.  Inflammation can show up in your skin as a minor breakout or all-out cystic acne. To minimize the inflammation and its side effects, eat a diet full of fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi (pickled cabbage).  These type of foods have live, active bacterial cultures, which leads to the good bacteria in our gut to increase.  One study in the journal Nutrition showed that those who drank a fermented drink had fewer acne lesions after just 12 weeks.

The first chronic skin condition that causes plaques (red, itchy scales all over the body) can be related to inflammation in your joints (arthritis). If you have plaques and joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, you could be dealing with psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects up to 30% of psoriasis suffers, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

There is another skin condition that goes well below the skin. Rosacea is usually marked by broken capillaries, facial flushing, and pimples, and can show up well into adulthood, even if you’ve never had it before.  This is due to hormonal changes you go through as you start menopause. So, to help regulate hormones, eat foods that promote liver detoxification such as cruciferous veggies, onions, garlic, and beets.

A third skin condition, eczema, is controlled more by your immune system than anything else.  Eczema attacks more than 30 million people and for many, the cause is an unknown food allergy.  Dr. Cates found that when you encounter an allergen, your body’s immune response is amped up, causing inflammation. This process leads to the release of histamines, chemical neurotransmitters, throughout body tissues, which can lead to eczema eruptions. So, if you have eczema, keep a food diary to find out what are your sensitivities.  Dr. Cates sees patients that are sensitive to dairy, gluten, soy, and peanuts.

The fourth skin condition that is more of an autoimmune problem is contact dermatitis.  It is the red, itchy rash which is an allergic reaction to some type of irritant that touches your skin. But sometimes those bumps can indicate something more serious: undiagnosed celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which ingesting gluten damages the small intestine.

The last skin condition dermatologists don’t usually connect to other medical issues is dermatitis herpetiformis, a stinging, blistering rash that tends to show up on knees, buttocks, elbows, lower back, and scalp.  It can affect 15 to 25% of people with celiac disease—often people with no digestive symptoms.  If you have celiac disease and ingest gluten, your immune system responds by releasing a defensive antibody called immoglobulin A (IgA) into the bloodstream. IgA can pool in blood vessels under the skin, causing a rash.  A short-term fix includes the sulfur-based antibiotic Dapsone to stop the itch, but the only long-term solution is a gluten-free diet.

So, next time you pick up the phone to call the dermatologist, you might need to talk to another specialist too.

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