Even with the best skin care regime, the skin can suffer from dehydration, poor tone, dryness and sensitivity. The condition of the skin is often a reflection of the internal environment of your body – what happens within eventually presents on the skin.
Skin dryness and itchiness are common issues but they could be a sign of an internal problem which needs attention. Itchy skin (pruritus) can be caused by a number of factors: either it’s simply a local skin irritation or a more pressing disorder of the nervous system. Itching sensations can be experienced as rashes, a crawling skin sensation, minor irritations, or inflammation.
The kidneys – your second skin
One organ which may be overburdened and cause skin problems is the kidneys. Often referred to as the ‘second skin’, the kidneys are often implicated when skin afflictions arise. It is highly beneficial to support kidney function for the effective elimination of waste materials from the body. This, in turn, helps to alkalise the blood, reduce inflammation and clean up circulation.
Common causes of skin problems
There are many reasons for poor skin quality. These include:
- nutrient deficiencies, especially the lack of quality oils
- liver congestion
- overheating in bed at night
- irritating perfumes and skin products
- poor kidney function and acid pH levels
- dirty blood and lymphatic congestion
- hormonal imbalances
- food allergies and sensitivities
- poor diet
By improving general health and addressing any underlying health problems, the appearance of the skin will also gradually improve. However, it’s a slow process but well worth the effort.
Diet tips to reduce skin dryness and itchiness
The condition of your skin depends a lot on what you feed the body. Here are a few adjustments you can make in your diet to improve the appearance of your skin and reduce dryness and itchiness.
Dehydration is among the biggest culprits of dry and itchy skin. Ensure that you are properly dehydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of water each day. Water is the solution to internal pollution as it allows more metabolic wastes to be filtered by the kidneys and eliminated from the body.
Reduce your consumption of diuretic drinks as these put a strain on the kidneys and contribute to dehydration. Examples of these are black tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks.
Get more essential fatty acid oils
A chronic deficiency in quality oils will contribute to irritation and dry skin. Oils such as fish oil, flaxseed oil, raw unheated olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and evening primrose oil provide moisture and help lubricate the skin. The same goes for fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. You can also rub olive oil directly into the area for fast relief. Increase oily foods in your diet to provide better moisture to the skin. They also act as a barrier to help soothe irritations.
Avoid acid-forming food
Reduce consumption of acid-forming foods which heat the blood (Yang heat) and cause inflammation and dry skin. An acidic environment in the body occurs due to eating too much sugar, dairy, wheat, red meat, spices, alcohol, preservatives, processed and refined foods.
Try lemon water
Begin each day with a small glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. Lemon juice is alkalising and helps to remove excess heat in the blood and improve liver function.
Increase cooling foods in your diet
There’s really some truth to the phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’. Cucumbers are incredibly hydrating and help replenish body fluids for healthier skin. Other cooling foods include brown rice, watermelon, pineapple, sprouts, fresh beans, fruits and vegetables.
Alkalise your body
Reduce inflammation by alkalising the blood. Alkalising foods include sprouts, fish, miso soup, millet, vegetable broths and juices as well as water, lemon juice and green barley powder. Lessen your consumption of inflammatory foods or foods that heat up the body such as wheat, sugar, dairy, alcohol, sodas, red meat, and processed or refined foods. Our Happy Greens formulation is also an easy and convenient way to assist the body in the alkalising and cleansing process.
Lifestyle changes for healthier skin
Get an allergy test
Have yourself tested to determine if there are any triggers causing your skin sensitivity. If dryness and irritation present around the mouth area, that may be directly caused by something you’re eating. Common irritant foods are pineapple, tomatoes and citrus. Consider avoiding these foods for a week and observe if the symptoms subside.
Your dermatologist will be able to determine the cause of skin reactions with blood and/or allergy tests. This will also help to determine whether the chemicals in your personal care or even home cleaning products are contributing to your condition.
Choose skin care products wisely
Avoid face products which contain mineral oils as their base – these are derivatives of petroleum and will cause further skin issues. Try not to use makeup or too many beauty products especially on irritated areas to prevent drying and irritation.
Use fragrance-free moisturisers, shampoos, creams, soaps and deodorants (especially when itch and rash present under the arms). The common skin irritants contained in most body and face care products are sodium lauryl sulphate or any of its derivatives, benzenes, petroleum-based products, aluminium, chlorhexidine, dioxins, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), parabens and hydrazines.
Take care of your liver and kidneys
More than just causing skin irritations, sodium lauryl sulphate and petroleum in skin care products also place further strain on the liver and kidneys. In naturopathic medicine, any condition which results in skin inflammation, dryness or irritation signifies that the liver needs to be addressed. If the liver is under duress it’s usually overworked and may heat up, causing the mucous membranes and skin to dry out.
Take a soothing bath to relieve the itchiness. Put some chamomile and oats in a muslin cloth or stocking and tie it over the bath tap. Then, let warm bath water run through it. Chamomile is very calming to the skin and oats contain mucopolysaccharides which are anti-pruritic. Both can help soothe and heal the skin and reduce the itch.
Stress plays a major role in skin health and causes a chemical response that makes skin more reactive and sensitive. That’s why it isn’t surprising to get hives, rashes, bumps, itching and breakouts when our stress levels are up. Learn how to manage stress as it can trigger or worsen flare-ups.
Natural remedies for dry skin
Add a few drops of essential oils to an unscented and nourishing water-based cream and apply topically to the affected area. Lavender, Calendula and Chickweed top the list in alleviating inflamed, dry, and itchy skin. Rose Hip, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera and some Jojoba, Tea Tree or Sweet Almond oil are also perfect additions to your blend.
- On its own, a base oil will also help to provide immediate relief from dryness and itch. Some of these beneficial oils are Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Sage, Tea Tree or Avocado.
- Use lip balms which contain beeswax and coconut oil to help relieve redness and irritation.
- Green foods such as Green Barley, Wheatgrass, Spirulina or Alfalfa may help to cool the blood, reduce any inflammation, and improve liver and kidney detoxification.
- Check your zinc levels. If you find you’re deficient, take a zinc supplement or eat more zinc-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, oysters, red meats, parsley and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Zinc is a mineral which is needed for skin health.
- Common nutritional deficiencies in individuals with dry irritated skin are Vitamins A, E, D, and C, essential fatty acids (oils) and selenium. Get more of these nutrients to keep your skin supple and healthy.
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from Evening Primrose oil is an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-specific fatty acid essential for skin health. Fish oil is also a good recommendation.
The appearance of the skin is a direct reflection of our inner health.