Skin Problems and Solutions

Skin Treatment

General Guidelines For Treating Problem Skin
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Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: the low carbohydrate diet, rich in oily fish and an antioxidant-rich range of different-colored fresh vegetables, salads and fruit, will help reduce inflammation (antioxidants act by preventing oxidative stress, a cause of inflammation). Explore food sensitivities and allergies: the gluten in grains, particularly wheat, and casein in cow's milk can cause inflammation in some people, particularly if their system tends to be inflammatory anyway. It may be worth a trial period eliminating these foods singly, to see if you benefit.
 
Treat constipation: elimination of toxins from the body is essential to skin health, so avoiding constipation (also a sign of an inflamed gut) is vital. Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables and fruit and keep your liver healthy to maintain bowel regularity by ensuring a steady supply of bile salts. Simple but effective liver detoxifiers include bitter-tasting herbs such as milk thistle (silybum marianum), dandelion root (taraxacum officinale), globe artichoke leaf extract (cynara scolymus), Swedish bitters - or even a tot of vermouth or Campari before a meal.
 
Take appropriate supplements:
 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids: restoring the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is essential to making the body less inflammatory. As well as eating oily fish and other foods containing omega-3s, consider a supplement of fish oils or, for vegetarians, a supplement derived from algae.
 
Probiotics: two thirds of the body's immune receptor cells are found in the gut; normalizing the balance of gut bacteria by taking a good probiotic supplement (rather than a probiotic drink, most of which contain sugar) is seen as crucial, because an excess of 'bad' gut bacteria is linked to inflammatory conditions, including the very cornmon Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Inflammatory gut problems are inextricably linked with unhealthy skin.
 
Zinc: this important anti-inflammatory mineral is often deficient in people with inflammatory skin conditions; the immune system is adversely affected by even moderate degrees of zinc deficiency, according to the Arretioall Office of Dietary Supplements. (Take as zinc picolinatra, forte best absorption.) Good food sources are animal protein, almonds, grains and seeds.
 
Skincare
 
Damaged or sensitive skin needs the gentlest care and my advice is to keep it simple, minimizing your exposure to common irritants and sensitizers, such as fragrance (including essential oils), synthetic chemical strsoreens and the petrochemical detergents sodium lauryl and laureth sulphates. Fragrance is not only found in skincare, but can settle on the skin from other sources, too, such as body sprays, hairsprays and aerosol air fresheners, so avoid these as well if your skin is suffering.
 
I recommend reducing your skincare to two basics: a detergent-free (non-foaming) cleanser - preferably removed with a soft muslin cloth, for gentlest daily exfoliation - and a good fragrance-and-sunscreen-free moisturizer.
 
Some natural skin calmers can help to soothe and heal (such as aloe vera, chamomile. cucumber and calendula) but even natural ingredients may further upset angry skin, as natural chemicals are no less sensitizing than synthetic ones - hence the avoidance of essential oils. Some unusual natural remedies may help - I've heard of organic full-fat milk helping to alleviate rosacea for example, but always patch-test anything new by applying to a small area in a less visible place (such as the back of the neck or inner arm) for at least 24 hours before using on your face.
 
If you're using a cotton muslin cloth to remove cleanser, make sure it's really clean, but check that no detergent residues are left in the cloth, as these will exacerbate the condition. I like washing aids such as Ecozone Wash Balls, which cut out the need for laundry liquids (better for the environment, and cheaper, too), or you can simply boil clothing in plain water to clean it without detergent. If your skin is irritated or broken, buy products with preservatives as the bacteria that breed in non-preserved creams will make damaged skin worse. Preservatives that may be included are phenoxyethanol, parabens, benzoic acid, dehydroacetic acid and polyaminopropyl biguanide. I don't advocate formaldehyde or formaldehyde-forming (when they mix with other chemicals they make formaldehyde) preservatives such as imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15 and DMDM hydantoin. And try not to put your fingers, and their bacteria, into pots: use fresh cotton buds to scoop out instead.
 
Chlorella - the great green food
 
Nutritionist Nadia Brydon gave me this recipe for a delicious green smoothie, incorporating chorella, one of the most ancient living organisms (she suggests using the Japanese brand Sun Chlorella). Chlorella is actually a food, not a supplement, and contains an abundance of chlorophyll (pure plant protein), amino acids, various vitamins and minerals. According to Nadia, 'It repairs damaged skin and promotes healthy new cells. It helps the liver detoxify, and also improves digestion and constipation. Chlorella combats inflammation by reducing the acid in your body, making it an alkaline environment, which is much less friendly to bacteria and other invaders.' As well as helping to alleviate skin problems, chlorella has been credited by women I know with producing big improvements in tone and texture. One beauty editor in her fifties describes the improvement as, 'amazing. '
 
Chlorella smoothie
 
Blend together and sip slowly as one dose (or meal replacement) or drink half, refrigerate the rest and drink no later than the same night.
* 1-2 cups of water
* 1/2 cucumber
* 1-2 celery sticks
* 1-2 parsley sprigs
* 3-6g chlorella (start with the lower amount and work up gradually)
* 1 garlic clove
* A few leaves basil
* Thumbnail-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
*1/2 avocado - tasty and contains omega-3 oils
Himalayan salt to taste (contains 81 minerals)
Fresh ground black pepper
 
For a sweet-tasting smoothie: omit garlic, salt and pepper, and add half a peeled mango or papaya and/ or 1 or 2 raw beetroot, topped and tailed but not peeled (but cleaned!). You can use other greens if you wish.
 
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