Tackling problem skin from the inside

There’s no doubt about it, the number of compromised, problematic skins we are seeing is on the increase. Our clients’ lifestyle, diet, work/home environments and stress levels are damaging many skins, making skin disorders more common than ever before.

As an industry we are treating more and more sensitised or damaged skins and yet many therapists I speak too are not confident in their ability to heal these conditions. I can relate to this feeling of doubt, having spent the first ten years of my career being frustrated by my lack of results. That is until I discovered a whole new approach to problem skins and I’ve never looked back. In fact today, these are the only skins I treat and because skin disorders are so damaging to our client’s self esteem and quality of life, there is nothing more rewarding than helping heal skin.

The secret is that tackling problem skins begins from the inside. The skin is created, supported and nourished from within so if it is showing signs of dysfunction, you need to look to the internal cause not just treat the symptoms topically.

Cystic acne is an example of a condition created entirely from within and therefore only able to be healed from the inside. Absolutely nothing can be done topically to treat this distressing condition, as I discovered when I was a newly qualified therapist. I tried many times to treat this condition with acne products only to find it had very little, if any, impact. This experience made me shy away from treating this condition because I reasoned if I couldn’t guarantee a result, I wasn’t embarking on the treatment. But once I learned how to treat it from the inside the results I can achieve are quite dramatic and it is now one of my favourite conditions to treat.

These photos demonstrate the dramatic results you can achieve with cystic acne if you address the cause not just the symptoms.
So what sort of internal factors can be contributing to your client’s skin problem? Firstly, nutritional deficiencies play a major part and unfortunately, if your client’s dry skin or acne is the result of a lack of certain vitamins or minerals, you will not be able to address this without first correcting the deficit. No amount of topical application of skin care products alone will be able to heal the problem.

A good example of that is acne. Studies have shown that acne sufferers are much more likely than non-acne sufferers to be deficient in the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A deficiency – makes infection more likely.
  • Zinc deficiency – healing is impaired and sebaceous flow increased.
  • EFA’s deficiency – comedones are more likely to form.
  • Vitamin B5 deficiency – fat droplets build up in the sebaceous glands.
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency – the body’s uptake and sensitivity to androgens is increased.

Eczema sufferers are also more likely to be deficient in certain nutrients and this makes the skin weaker and more vulnerable to inflammation and topical irritation.

These above photos show the results you can achieve if you combine an internal programme with anti-inflammatory, healing products topically.

So it is easy to see why we are doomed to failure if we do not address these nutritional deficiencies. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more likely your client will be suffering from a lack of one or more of the important skin nutrients.

Some key skin nutrients, like beta-carotene and vitamin C, can easily be obtained through the diet by increasing your client’s intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Other nutrients like zinc, B complex and EFA’s are best supplemented to ensure there is an adequate intake for healing skin.

There are also many things in our modern diets that can contribute to the problems our clients’ experience. Being aware of these problem foods can go a long way to helping correct the issues. Some of these problem foods are obvious like alcohol. You just need observe what happens to someone with fine, fair, sensitive skin who drinks alcohol to know that it is one of the most inflammatory things they can do and it definitely makes skin redder.

There are lots of other ‘hidden’ foods that could be ‘stoking the fire’ and contributing to the problems your client is experiencing. Heating and congesting foods and drinks become an issue for those of our clients who are genetically sensitive to them.
On the positive side, more and more of our commonly eaten foods are managing to find their way onto the growing list of foods that contain phyto-chemicals that heal and rebalance the skin.

It is also important to take a holistic view of the skin. What other influencing factors could be contributing to the problem? Examples of irritants are chlorinated pools, hot spa pools, air conditioning, certain chemicals, soaps and shampoos to name just a few. Rosacea is an example of a condition that is greatly affected by external factors and these need to be considered in the treatment of this disorder.

In our industry it has become common for us to look at the skin as an isolated part of the body rather than considering the big picture. My mentor once described the development of a skin disorder as a ‘perfect storm’, the definition of which is a detrimental situation or event arising from the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances.

This is so true of skin conditions as they are seldom due to only one factor. For example, the development of dermatitis can be a combination of a skin weakened by nutritional deficiencies being exposed to irritating chemicals and fuelled by inflammatory foods.

As a therapist we also need to consider all the factors that could be undermining the health of the skin. The work/home environment, exercise, sleep, stress, diet, product application, overheating, and the list goes on.

So treating skin problems requires a whole new approach but it is exciting and rewarding work that helps build your reputation as a true skin therapist.

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