Hey you, behind that pesky rash! You are most likely wondering what caused it, why it started and how to get rid of it, right?!
Although you may not think of that skin rash or acne breakout as inflammation, there's a good chance it is. In this article I will explain what inflammation is, what causes it, and how to reduce or eliminate it from your body (and thus your skin).
I promised to share with you my 5 Promising Ways to Calm Your Skin Inflammation (Quickly). A word of caution, by quickly I mean 1-3 months not 1 week. It will take that long at a minimum in order to rid your body of the toxins, to figure what ingredients to avoid, or to make lifestyle changes to impact what is causing the inflammatory flare-ups.
You may start to see improvements right away and so I encourage you to keep diligent until you see your skin calm down and to heal.
Patience is required to make a big change to your complexion and I do think that 1-3 months is possible as long as you make some serious changes to your lifestyle as per the advice below. Ugh.
I get it. You are done with your skin acting up!
Behind your acne flare-up, your red cheeks, extremely dry skin or rash that just popped up out of nowhere is likely something internal that's going on. Conditions like these that show up on your skin is your body's way of signalling you to a possible concern to take notice of.
Internal? Like where? Inside your gut that's where.
What does my skin have to do with my gut?
Well, your gut is your second brain essentially. So if there is an imbalance, known as gut dysbiosis, then you are facing a range of issues that could be causing inflammation. This inflammation could show up in your body as joint pain and headaches for example, or on your skin showing the imbalance in a variety of ways.
Couldn't it just be an allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient or product instead?
Yes. It could be indeed that you are allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in a product you are using and doesn't involve the gut at all. For example, many people react to certain scents or fragrances and thus it causes a rash or other topical skin reaction. Often times, as soon as they stop using the offending product, the rash clears up.
However, if it doesn't clear up...
If you are inflamed on the inside, that's what is showing up on your skin because the inflammation makes its way to the skin's surface as a warning signal of something internal that isn't working the way it should.
Your skin is a mirror to your internal health, namely your gut health.
Now that we have established the link between gut health and skin health, keep reading below to hear 5 Promising Ways to Calm Your Skin Inflammation.
These are all natural methods of course and as mentioned earlier you can see results as long as you are diligent and patient. I approach skin health from a holistic and integrative point of view (inside-out) given that I am a natural skincare formulator and specialize in nutrition for aesthetics.
If you visit your MD for a skin rash, they are likely going to recommend a topical antibiotic or corticosteroid cream to treat it. That will be a quick result most likely, but will not necessarily address the root cause of what internally is causing the inflammatory response.
Here are my 5 Promising Ways to Calm Your Inflammation Quickly
1. Is your skincare toxic?
You are exposed to potentially thousands of toxins everyday in your home, never mind in other places you visit such as stores, workplaces, gyms, etc. You can start to reduce the toxic overload on your body by reducing or eliminating toxicity in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry and whole home.
Firstly, switch to natural skincare products that don't contain the "dirty dozen" toxins but rather contain what we call the "clean ten" in your skincare.
For example, does your underarm anti-perspirant contain aluminum in it? How about "fragrance"?
The first thing you should be looking at switching is your anti-perspirant out for a natural deodorant instead that is scented with only 100% pure essential oils and is aluminum-free, GMO-free, and vegan.
Next, look at other toxins in your home such as in your laundry soap, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies, and finally make the switch to organic household items and foods as much as you possibly can.
If you do get a seemingly random reaction show up on your skin, I suggest you do a "skincare elimination diet" to rid your body of any offending ingredients or toxins and see if the reaction goes away. If it does, then slowly reintroduce the products with one week between each one to see if the reaction comes back. This will help you to narrow down the culprit if it is a topical reaction.
2. Could food be your trigger?
Look at the foods you are eating that may be creating an intolerance or allergy. If you are unsure, then similar to the "skincare elimination diet", you will do a food elimination diet. There are common food allergens that most Naturopathic Doctor's and Integrative practitioners recommend you explore removing.
The most common food allergens that cause inflammation are: dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, eggs, soy, fish, nuts.
A word of caution: Be careful not to go too overboard and cut out every major food group even if you don't suspect it's an issue for you and/or don't do it as a permanent solution. You need to find out what foods may be a potential issue and proceed with caution. I have experienced personally how this can lead to an Eating Disorder and also have seen others struggle with this.
Another option here is to get proper food testing done to see if leaky gut is what is at the root cause of your inflammation and hence skin rashes, acne, eczema or whatever other issues is ailing you. Here's a great resource from a gut health expert on testing and leaking gut.
3. Let Food be Thy Medicine.
Food is meant for both pleasure and nourishment.
It has incredible powers to both heal us and to potentially harm us. For example, harm can come from either from a food sensitivity from otherwise healthy foods or from less nutritious choices that are processed, or from foods that are full of toxins such as pesticides, preservatives and others.
I like to suggest that all people, whether you have a skin issue or not, eat as much "off label" as possible. When you are buying produce, lean proteins, legumes, etc. that are fresh you don't have a label to read or worry about!
Consume anti-inflammatory foods for your skin.
What kind of foods are anti-inflammatory and can help heal your skin issue?
Here are some to add to your plate every day!
- turmeric spice - contains curcumin which is anti-inflammatory
- green tea - contains catechins (antioxidants) and polyphenals to reduce inflammation
- blueberries - contains (antioxidants) anthocyanin which fight free radical damage which causes inflammation
- avocado and broccoli - contain glutathione which helps your liver to detoxify your body, thus reducing inflammation
- salmon & chia seeds - heart healthy omega 3 fats reduce inflammation
- sweet potatoes - phytochelatins help to bind heavy metals and thus detox your body
- also to note: watch sodium intake as salt increases inflammation!
- YOU CAN'T GO WRONG...if you make your plate look like a rainbow of colour each time you prepare to sit down and enjoy your meal.
4. Heal Your Gut.
In order to heal your skin issue, of course paying attention to the 5 Promising Ways to Calm Your Skin is the place to start.
Already switched to clean, non-toxic natural skincare that ditches the harmful endocrine disrupting toxins and GMO's? Great!
No more aluminum-filled anti-perspirant and swapped it for all natural deodorant? Awesome.
Already figured out what is causing your skin issue and eliminated it from your life, be it food, an ingredient you are sensitive to, or a toxin that you've kicked to the curb. Fantastic!
You're already eating a diverse diet (your microbiome thanks you!) and making a rainbow of colour on your plate each day? You rock!
Next it is time to....Focus on healing your gut.
You see you are on the right track by taking the steps you have already. Congratulations! However, you may have already suffered gut damage, known as leaky gut, and therefore until you heal that damage you may not readily see a huge change in your skin health.
One of the most recommended ways to do that, in addition to these other tips shared here, are to incorporate probiotic supplements and prebiotic foods into your diet.
What are prebiotic foods that help your gut and your skin health?
5. Manage your stress to lower inflammation.
Our final and fifth tip is to lower your stress levels. Easier said than done, I know! But truly scientists have proven that elevated, chronic stress causes inflammation which in turn causes issues to turn up on your skin.
We know that with most disease and illness, it comes down to a mix of genetics and epi-genetics, with genetics making up about 10-20% of the likelihood of getting ill. The remaining 80-90% comes down to your lifestyle choices, your behaviours and environment!
What can you do to lower your stress?
Here are my top tips for lowering stress:
- Develop a calm morning ritual that includes movement, meditation (my personal fave is Calm), journalling.
- Incorporate heart-rate elevating exercise and movement as well as mind-body connecting movement such as yoga, pilates and barre class.
- Decrease caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Decrease your screen time (including watching the news, social media).
- Ensure you have a support network of close friends and family to socialize with.
- Get out in nature as much as possible.
Some of my Fave Anti-Inflammatory Meal Ideas
Lunch: Large organic baby spinach salad with oven-roasted chickpeas, artichoke hearts, oven-roasted sweet potatoes and beets, avocado, and kimchi (or throw whatever other fresh produce you enjoy and have on-hand)
Dinner: So simple sheet pan Roasted Salmon with broccoli and beets, plus a cup of green tea or a glass of ginger turmeric kombucha
Here also is a fantastic recipe for a lentil, sweet potato and kale stew with turmeric, to fall in love with. Look how easy it is to get all these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods into one simple meal!
About the Author: Jodie Pappas
Jodie Pappas is the Founder and Skincare Formulator of the Canadian-made skincare brand Clean Kiss. Jodie creates clean, natural skincare products for women over 40 to feel confident and glowing in their skin, without the use of any harmful toxins.
Jodie is a Certified Organic Skincare Formulator, a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Pracitioner and a Registered Yoga Teacher. She believes that beautiful pro-aging skin is available for every woman and uses a holistic lifestyle approach to educate and inspire.