Whenever I begin working with a new patient, I take a comprehensive health history which includes the question, "Do you have any skin problems?" I'm particularly concerned about such conditions as psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer. But I’m also looking for dry or oily skin. These skin conditions tell me a lot about what’s going on inside a person.
For instance, almost all of my new patients will tell me, “I have dry skin.” So what can you do if you have dry skin – or any other skin condition? Here are a few helpful tips that I give my patients.
Even though they're not diseases, extremely dry or excessively oily skin can pose problems. Diet, environment, and soaps can all add to or improve your skin problems. With so many skin-care products available, it's easy to choose the wrong kind for your particular type of skin. Especially when advertisements proclaim their products are the answer to your skin problems. When you know which ingredients will minimize overly dry or very oily skin, you can often find inexpensive products that work well.
Revitalizing dry skin
The number-one remedy for dry skin is to drink enough water. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, do not qualify as ”water.” Caffeine is generally dehydrating.
Get sufficient quantities of the right kind of oils. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as the omega-3 and omega-6 fats found in flax oil, raw walnuts, fatty fish, evening primrose oil, and borage seed oil do more than help control weight and support your immune system. They keep your skin healthy and moist. If you're not eating enough foods high in EFAs every day, or taking them in supplements, you may be contributing to your dry skin. Don't rely on applying oils topically. Take one teaspoon of flax oil, or two capsules of flax, borage, or evening primrose oil, twice a day. Or add two to four capsules of fish oil daily, except on days when you eat oily fish, like salmon.
Your skin needs vitamin A to repair and make healthy skin. Red, yellow, and dark green leafy vegetables contain carotenoids, used to make vitamin A. Include several good portions of these foods every day. Supplement your diet with 15,000-25,000 mg of carotenoids — or 5,000-10,000 of vitamin A in your multivitamin. If you’re pregnant, please do not supplement with vitamin A. Make sure you get enough vitamin C, which is needed to make the skin protein collagen. Take 1,000-2,000 mg a day and eat fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C. Orange, lemons, limes, grapefruit, kiwi, spinach and green leafy vegetables, blackberries, thyme, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts to name a few.
Avoid products with ingredients that dry the skin, like acetone, alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, camphor, citrus, eucalyptus, menthol, and mint. Some of them may be "natural" and smell good, but they have drying effects. Use fragrance-free skin cleansers instead of soaps.
Avoid long, hot showers or baths since these dry your skin as well. Use a moisturizer after bathing with some of the following ingredients: coconut oil, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acid.
Use a good sunscreen with at least SPF-25 containing zinc, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone daily. Only these ingredients protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Use a sunscreen/moisturizer combination to give your skin double benefits.
To remove dead skin, dry brush your body with a loofah sponge every day. Use a softer cloth for your face to avoid bruising delicate skin.
When skin is too oily
While dry skin is more prevalent, you may have inherited oily skin. When the oil glands in skin, called sebaceous glands, make too much oil (or sebum), your skin becomes oily. The nice result is that your skin remains moist and you're likely to have fewer wrinkles. But too much oil can plug up your pores and cause them to stretch and break, resulting in acne. Or you can have shiny, oily patches that are unsightly areas for dirt to collect.
A vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency can contribute to oily skin. Dietary choices can include salmon, tofu, mushrooms, almonds, avocados, eggs, tuna, and green peas. Next, look at the skin-care products you're using.
Natural cleansers for oily skin
If you have oily skin, use only facial cleansers with alcohol-free toners. Alcohol is drying, but it could dry your skin too much and backfire on you, causing more oil to be secreted. If you use a moisturizer, use very small amounts of one that is oil-free. In fact, all of your cosmetics should be free from oil. Here are a few natural products you can use for cleansing:
• Gently apply your skin with apple-cider vinegar and water (1:1 ratio).
• Cleanse your face with a strong, cool, sage tea. Make it ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator. If you don't grow sage and can't find sage tea, you can get Female Sage Tea by Traditional Medicinals, Inc. from Natural Resources (800-747-0390).
• Rub a slice of raw potato on your face and rinse with cool water.
• Add three to five drops of any of the following essential oils (found in natural food stores) to your favorite cleanser or shampoo: lemon, orange, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, jasmine, or geranium.
Treating Serious Skin Condition Like Psoriasis
I love it when my readers find surprising solutions to their skin care woes – especially when those solutions help them avoid drugs with potentially dangerous side effects. That was the case for Sheila, who had been suffering from terrible psoriasis for years.
She described how the condition plagued her, saying, “I had it on my ankles, lower calves, and feet. The itch was awful. Sometimes I would have terrible itching fits at night. My feet were bleeding from the incessant scratching. I was covered with horrible, ugly scales.”
Her doctors recommended that she take a pill. But she researched the drug and found that it could cause liver damage. Then they suggested an IV solution. Her research indicated that drug could increase her cancer risk. She didn’t enjoy having psoriasis. But she didn’t think the risks of the drugs were worth it.
A year ago, she started taking a product called PectaSol Detox Formula. PectaSol contains modified citrus pectin and alginate from seaweed. These ingredients bind to toxins to help the body remove them. Shelia took about a gram a day every morning with water to help her body detox.
She was shocked to find that after only six days, her psoriasis had improved dramatically. The itch, redness, and scales had nearly disappeared. Now, she reports, “my skin is basically normal except a few patches here and there.”
Toxins in the bloodstream can lead to inflammation, which promotes psoriasis. I’ve had other patients have great success reducing their psoriasis levels by reducing inflammation. So I’m not surprised that this anti-inflammatory detox formula works as well.
Unlike drugs, PectaSol will actually improve your health. It will work with your liver to detox your body. And it will reduce your cancer risk, not increase it. I’m so glad Shelia found a solution to her psoriasis that wasn’t risky. And I’m glad she shared it with me.
If you’re having a tough time tackling psoriasis, PectaSol may help you beat it as well. It’s certainly worth a try. I can’t say the same for the drugs.
Finding the best skin-care products
The best products for your skin are always all natural. Preservatives and other additives can damage your skin in the long run. Instead, look for all-natural products like Système 41, which deeply moisturize your skin without making it oily.
Jacknin, Jeanette, MD. Smart Medicine for Your Skin, Avery Publishing, 2001.