Skin rashes, itching, splotches, and red bumps account for more than 13.4 million doctor visits every year. Although the word “rash” means an outbreak of red bumps on the body, people use it to describe many conditions, all of which are no fun.
As a Clinical Nutritionist and Homeopath, I see a variety of conditions, from weight loss to depression to skin conditions. Most of my clients are people seeking a more holistic or natural way to regain health. It always amazes me how the body responds when you specifically support what the body’s missing.
My wife, who is also in the clinic with me, has been practicing clinical skin care for over a decade making this is an especially juicy topic. A review of skin and rash basics is helpful to anyone itching to feel better.
The skin plays a major role in our immune system. It offers a front line of defense against many things we don’t want in our body. The skin does this in part with a protective layer called the acid mantle, made from sebum and sweat.
Sebum is an oily secretion that spreads over our hair and skin produced by tiny ducts next to our hair follicles. Excess sebum is associated with oily skin and acne (common with the teens) whereas a lack of sebum leads to skin dryness and wrinkle formation (common with aging).
The acid mantle keeps an acidic pH of 4 to 5.5, which helps protect the skin from the elements including bacteria, fungi, and other pollutants. When this balance is disrupted the skin becomes prone to damage or infection.
Contact with sensitizing agents such as soap, oil, detergents, and other factors may lead to chronic dermatitis (inflammation to the upper layers of skin). My goal is to address the lowered level of resistance to irritants rather than the irritants themselves.
Eczema is a form of dermatitis. The term eczema is used to describe a range of persistent or recurring skin rashes. Atopic Dermatitis is a common form of eczema. It appears to be hereditary and may begin in childhood with chapped cheeks and scaly patches of skin on the scalp, arms, torso, and legs, eventually spreading to the elbows and knees. Adults get atopic dermatitis on the hands, eyelids, genitals and over the rest of the body. The skin becomes extremely itchy and inflamed, causing redness, swelling, cracking, weeping, crusting, and scaling. In general, removing soaps, detergents, or other possible reactants makes no positive difference.
Contact Dermatitis refers to a rash that occurs as an allergic reaction to touching something specific like poison oak. Conventional treatment usually involves avoiding the irritant and using topical steroids including over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone creams, prescription creams, as well as the newer nonsteroidal medications tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel).
Psoriasis is a hereditary condition affecting elbows, knees, and elsewhere. Pityriasis Rosea produces scaly patches on the chest and back and lasts about one month. Xerosis can appear as very dry skin during the cold dry months of the year. There are many more scaly rashes.
When infections appear as rashes, it is often caused by a fungus or bacteria. Fungal infections are not generally caused by hygiene, animals, gyms, showers, pools, locker rooms, or even other contagious people – despite their reputation. The most common bacterial infection is Impetigo. Impetigo is caused by staph or strep germs and is often seen in children versus adults.
Non-prescription antibacterial creams like Bacitracin or Neosporin are not very effective. Viral rashes usually last only days before disappearing on their own. This is different than a viral infection of the skin like herpes or shingles.
Hives (urticaria) are itchy red welts. They can cover any parts of the body. Most hives are not allergic and run their course. They disappear as mysteriously as they came.
There are a few things you can do on your own until you get into the clinic. Combination Homeopathic remedies from Henry’s or Sprouts can offer safe and effective relief. A combination remedy is one that may display a condition like “Rash” or “Hives,” but is actually made up of a mixture of remedies all relating to the condition named.
It’s sort of a shotgun effect. These remedies are very low in potency so the trick is to take them more often. More potent remedies are available only through homeopathic practitioners.
Your Clinical Nutritionist should start with a complete assessment to address the specific aspects of the body that need support. A good nutrition program can improve immune functions such as phagocytosis, lymph drainage, cellular reproduction, tissue repair, calcium transfers, epithelial and connective tissue factors, and neutralization of skin antibodies.
By supporting the body’s innate healing mechanisms, it becomes better equipped to handle the complexities of any disease.