Autoimmunity and Dry Skin, are They Connected?

Fortunately, I do not have dry skin.  But many of my autoimmune clients do. 

psoriasis, autoimmunity, eczema, dry skinWhat about you?  Do you have dry skin that seems to need a ton of moisturizers to stop it cracking and flaking.  Or does your skin require multiple visits to the dermatologist, each time coming home with a different medication? If so, my heart goes out to you.  You may want to consider talking to a Functional Nutritionist, like me.

There can be many factors involved in causing dry skin:  soap, fragrance, genetics, hard water, medications, dry air, frequent zealous handwashing.  Sometimes, it can be linked to autoimmune disease. Psoriasis is one example of an autoimmune condition that mostly affects the skin.  Although, it can sometimes affect the joints too, Psoriatic Arthritis). Dry skin can also be a symptom of other types of autoimmune conditions. Here is some highlighted information on the connection between autoimmune conditions and dry skin.

 

Eczema

Eczema is chronic skin condition that is difficult for western medicine to find an answer for.  It is characterized by red itchy, dry skin which may lead to rashes and infections. There is a debate now, about whether Eczema is actually an autoimmune condition. But research is suggesting that it psoriasis, eczema, itchy, autoimmunedefinitely may be.   What I have found in my client population, is that following an autoimmune food protocol, helps Eczema tremendously.  Eczema can occur anywhere on your body, but it’s common for it to affect the elbows, backs of the knees, and hands.  Two studies now going on are looking at the possibility of using healthy bacteria to get rid of the bad bacteria which may be causing the disease, in order to restore a happy bacterial balance.

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • Skin that is dry, red, itchy, sore and prone to cracking
  • Very itchy skin that may also burn
  • Oozing and crustiness that can often occur if you scratch affected areas

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells, which turn over a lot faster than they normally would. These new skin cells build up more quickly than your body can shed them and that results in raised areas of dry, red and itchy skin. This can happen anywhere on the body. Some people with psoriasis will go on to develop a type of arthritis in the joints,  called psoriatic arthritis.

Other symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding
  • Itching and burning feelings on affected areas
  • Thick, pitted nails

Unlike Eczema, psoriasis, is an exaggerated inflammatory response that triggers symptoms. The inflammation typically results in red, dry, itchy and scaly skin. According to the results of a study, eczema symptoms can be greatly reduced through medications that target the immune proteins that target healthy tissues, and set the scene for the autoimmune reaction. Although the medications may help,  it may compromise other functions of the body.  I have seen in my practice that an autoimmune Paleo food pattern, diminishes symptoms markedly.

I had a client that had developed MRSA from scratching her psoriasis so badly, it became infected.  By putting her on an autoimmune, paleo food program, combined with a mild detox, the infection and her Psoriasis cleared totally.

Scleroderma

sclerderma, psoriasis, eczema, autoimmune, aip, paleoPatches of thick, hard and dry skin can be a symptom of scleroderma, which develops due to hardening of the body’s connective tissues. An autoimmune response means that collagen is produced to the same extent that it would if there was an injury to the skin.

Depending on how severe the condition is, it can potentially be pretty serious and sometimes even life threatening. This is because it can go far deeper than just the localized type that affects the skin. The systemic sclerosis type of scleroderma can also affect the blood vessels, muscles and vital organs.

Autoimmune Conditions Likely To Cause Dry Skin:

Some other autoimmune conditions can cause dry skin, although this is rarely their only symptom. Some of these include:

Thyroid problems can cause dry skin, especially hypothyroidism. This autoimmune condition develops when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce high enough levels of thyroid hormones. This generally reverses when you start taking thyroid medication to get your thyroid levels back to normal.

Type 1 diabetes is another autoimmune condition that can affect the skin. It can cause dry and itchy skin that is also prone to infections, especially on your feet. Other symptoms include being thirsty a lot, needing to go to the bathroom frequently and feeling tired.

Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry skin. It also tends to make your eyes and mouth dry and affects the joints, muscles and salivary glands. You can be more likely to develop Sjögren’s syndrome if you already have an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Natural Ways to Heal Dry Skinsclerderma, psoriasis, eczema, autoimmune, aip, paleo

So, what do you think.  Is your dry skin, a result of an autoimmune condition?  If it is,  you’ll often be given medications and topical creams to tackle the inflammation and make symptoms less severe.The medications can have side effects though, and you may wonder if you get some natural relief for symptoms instead. A  functional nutritionist trained in natural methods, diet, nutrition, and supplements to diminish or  eliminate it.   Yes, and here are a few options that you can try out:

  • Olive oil can be used a natural facial cleanser and also helps to nourish dry skin. Sunflower seed oil has also been tested in studies.  It is a great option for moisturizing dry skin on the body. Coconut oil, works in much the same way as petroleum jelly.  It’s a good replacement for it.  This is probably because the fatty acids give it emollient properties.
  • An avocado face mask can soothe dry skin on your face. It’s simple to whip up too. Just mash up around half an avocado and mix with a teaspoon of olive oil. Adding a teaspoon of honey can also work for very dry skin. Leave it on your skin for up to 20 minutes and wash off with warm water. Don’t use very hot water to wash it off as this can dry the skin out even more.
  • For dry skin that affects the rest of your body, try adding oatmeal to a warm (but not hot!) bath. It can help to soothe the discomfort of dry skin and is also moisturizing. It’s great for sunburn as well.  Oatmeal can also be used as a face mask too. To use it in your bath, whizz up some oatmeal in a blender or food processor and mix it into warm water.
  • Applying honey to your skin helps to soothe and hydrate it. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which can be great for autoimmune skin conditions such as psoriasis.

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