You probably know your skin pretty well. It’s your largest organ, it’s your body’s first protective means, and it’s what you see when you look in the mirror. It’s beautiful. Your skin can also provide a window into what’s going on inside your body and can help to make you aware of your body’s needs.
Acute skin issues, such as rashes that occur with exposure to certain things like poison ivy or your grandmother’s scented soaps, are often immune-related. Your immune system is reacting to a perceived pathogen through your skin, and thus causing a rash.
The skin is also a reflection of gut function; many chronic “skin issues” are actually gut issues. When we have trouble with our digestive system – from irritable bowel disease to malabsorption – it can manifest on our skin as a rash, bumpy skin, cracks or lines, and so on. This is our body’s way of making us aware that there is a problem. Rather than trying to cover up the skin issue, which would be a superficial fix, it is important to find out what exactly is going on underneath and address that. That is where the healing happens.
Rashes that occur with exposure to individual triggers: these are usually immune reactions. Avoiding the specific food, environmental, chemical, wildlife, etc. triggers is the best way to avoid the rash. If you can’t avoid the trigger, minimize exposure and consider taking a nosode or sublingual drops to desensitize your immune system to the specific trigger. These medicines may be found in natural health markets but are best prescribed by your naturopathic doctor, especially for preparations that are more specific to your concerns.
Rashes that are more chronic or recurring: these are likely related to your digestive system. Your gut is in need of healing. Your skin is sending a message that your digestive tract needs a little extra TLC. In general, choose less inflammatory foods (avoid fried and fast foods), choose more whole foods (avoid processed and packaged foods), and ensure you are consuming a healthy dose of EFAs. Your gut function is essential for your health – in fact, the majority of the immune system is located in and around your digestive system – so this is a priority for your health. See your naturopathic doctor for a custom gut-healing protocol.
It’s important to mention that everyone’s body is unique. While similar symptoms may indicate a similar underlying issue, oftentimes this is not the case so while we can learn from generalizations, we have to know that what is true for someone else and their body is not necessarily true for us. In addition, a lack of skin symptoms does not necessarily mean your gut is perfect; we have to look at the whole picture of your health and what you are experiencing. Lastly, skin changes may not always be linked to gut health, so it is important to discuss anything you are experiencing with your doctor.
The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.