Dermatology / Skin Conditions
|Causes||Dietary Factors, Environmental Chemicals, Elimination of Toxins|
|See Also||General Conditions|
|Books||Books on Skin Diseases such as Rosacea: Your Self-Help Guide and others.|
|Articles||Articles on Dermatology / Skin Conditions|
Skin is the body's largest organ. It consists of thin outer layer called the epidermis, a much thicker inner layer called the dermis. Beneath the dermis is the subcutaneous layer consisting of fat bound together by tough fibers extending down from the dermis. Between the epidermis and dermis is the basement membrane, to which both layers are attached.
The following are some of the most common skin conditions treated by naturopathic doctors:
|Article||Mixed Inflammatory Skin Conditions; Emerging Dermatological Entities, NDNR; 2013 May|
|Article||A wrinkle is not just a wrinkle: The skin as a mirror of nutritional quality, stress burden and internal health through the aging process, IHP, , Feb/March 2010|
|Article||Clinical insights from the skin: A naturopathic medical perspective, IHP, October 2009|
- Acne vulgaris
- Age spots
- Boils or Furuncles
- Canker Sores
- Dry Skin
- Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis
- Herpes simplex virus (Cold Sores)
- Pruritus (Itchiness)
- Urticaria (Hives)
Functions of the Skin
The skin is a very complex organ with a vast array of functions. It is linked to and a reflection of a person's inner state of health.
- It is the first line of defence. It is the interface between the body's internal structures and the environment, serving as a protective coat against mechanical injury and attack by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, while melanin protects against ultraviolet radiation.
- It is the largest organ of elimination. It is often the overflow organ for the internal organs of elimination.
- The skin plays a vital role in temperature regulation through sweating which lowers body temperature and shivering which increases it.
- The five sensations arising from stimulation of skin nerves include touch, pain, heat, cold and pressure. Other skin sensations, such as vibration, are composites of these basic sensations.
- The skin is part of the immune system.
- It is the interface between the individual's consciouness, their nervous system and the world, being the vehicle through which we express, communicate and perceive. Thus the psychological and spiritual aspects of an individual will impact and be impacted by the skin.
- The epidermis of the skin and the nervous system are derived from the same tissue in the human embryo.
- The close functional relationship between skin and the nervous system facilitates many aspects of homeostasis, e.g., control of body temperature.
- Individuals express and experience much of their self-image through the skin.
Skin Characteristics and Lesions
The apperance of abnormal changes, or lesions, in the skin is an important element in diagnosis and treatment.
- Skin Colour - The normal colour of the skin depends on ethnic origin. Skin colour changes that may indicate an underlying condition or concern include: paleness, yellowness, redness, purple discolouration, brown spots, black spots or areas of skin.
- Primary Lesions are the earliest changes to appear and include macule or patch, papule, plaque, nodule, pustule, vesicle, bulla, wheal or hive.
- Secondary Lesions result either from the development of primary lesions or from manipulation of the primary lesion. They include scales, crusts, erosion, ulcer, fissure, atrophy and scar.
- Other Skin Lesions include excoriation, comedo, milia, cyst, burrow, lichenification, telangiectasia, petechiae, purpura and acanthosis.
- Other characteristics associated with the skin include: dry skin, hyperpigmentation, tone and texture of the skin.
When treating skin conditions it is important to treat both the inner body and the skin itself. Topical applications alone are seldom effective and can be suppressive. Skin conditions truly utilize the ecletic nature of naturopathic medicine:
- Clinical Nutrition - food allergies, food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies are commonly the cause or an aggravating factor of most skin diseases. Addressing dietary influences is typically a first step in any treatment. Supplements also provide the needed vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to heal the skin.
- Botanical Medicine - Herbs are commonly prescribed to treat the underlying systemic condition. Topically herbs are chosen to treat the specific condition, for example anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-pruritic, astringent, emollient, rubefacient or vulnerary. Herbs are also commonly used in the form of poulices and compresses, lotions, creams and salves.
- Hydrotherapy whether in the form of baths or the direct application of hot or cold water to the skin, are useful in treating widespread eruptions of the skin, removing crusts, scales and relieving inflammation, and itching. To increase the therapeutic effectiveness therapeutic salts, essential oils, herbal extracts or Oatmeal can be used.
- Hoffmann David (1992) Therapeutic herbalism: A correspondence course in phytotherapy