Dermatology in practice requires an in-depth clinical knowledge of the various internal conditions that can be the trigger effect for skin allergies and symptoms.
Here is a look at some of the more common skin conditions that dermatologists are trained to treat:
Where the skin loses melanin, which leads to patches of lighter coloured skin.
One of the more common diseases in Western countries, acne is an oil gland disease. A range of causes are associated with it, and its side-effects range from depression and scarring to low self-esteem.
Dermatitis and Eczema
Dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin. Typically it results in swelling and an itchy rash. It has varying forms such as dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis, each of which affects the skin differently.
The fungus affects the skin, hair and nails. Fungal infections are more common than people realise and usually come with mild symptoms. For people whose immune system is vulnerable, they can cause more pressing issues. A collection of yeast called Candida is the culprit of causing a wide range of skin problems including balanitis and oral thrush.
Hair loss can be the result of an underlying condition like alopecia or other isolated problems such as lice.
A dermatologist also treats various conditions that affect the nails. Problems often arise from fungal infections and ingrowing toenails. In many cases nail complaints can be an indicator for other underlying conditions.
Psoriasis is a severe autoimmune disorder that leads to the overproduction of skin cells. This can move at a rapid pace and result in thick, silvery and red skin. There is more than one form of psoriasis and carries a resemblance to eczema.
Rosacea is noticeable on the face as it causes redness similar to blushes. It is in fact a collection of tiny swollen bloody vessels. It is known to spread around the face and to the nose, ears and as far as the back and the chest and is most common in middle-aged women with fairer skin.
In the US alone around five million people receive treatment for cancer every year, and as many as one in five people in the US will develop a form of skin cancer at some time in their life. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common strain along with melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Early treatment resolves most skin cancers.
Shingles, or Herpes Zoster
These are viral infections that affect nerve endings and a painful rash. Conditions can clear within a few weeks naturally; however, intervention can lead to a speedy recovery, preventing numbness, pain and itching after the infection is gone.
Warts are contagious, benign skin growths appearing on the top layer of skin. Warts are also another indicator for other underlying issues. Warts are known to disappear without treatment. A dermatologist has a wide array of treatments for warts at his/her disposal.
The Naturopath’s Approach
Managing symptoms vs. Treating the Cause
Skin disorders can be distressing causing pain, itching and in extreme cases disfigurement.
The naturopath’s approach to dealing with these disorders is look for a more effective strategy to produce a final cure for the patient not an ongoing treatment.
Skin diseases are an indication to a naturopath of imbalances on the inside. With this in mind, the approach is to find and address the underlying causes, showing ways in which a person can lessen and even halt these symptoms from recurring in the future without the use of topical treatments.
It is known in naturopathic circles as ‘the inside-out’ approach and many skin disorders such as:
- Fungal or Bacterial Infections
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Nappy rash
Also, dermatitis herpetiformis all respond to this treatment well.
Conventional medicine mostly treats skin conditions topically with steroids being commonly prescribed. This can provide short-term relief but do not nullifying the causation with symptoms not only returning but usually with worse symptoms than the previous time.
The use of steroids cannot be long-term due to side effects such as:
- Skin Atrophy: A thinning of the skin, causing the skin to be wrinkly and lax due to problems with the underlying connective tissue.
- The risk of permanent stretch marks increases.
- Decreased immune function makes the skin vulnerable to bacteria or fungus.
The reality is for people treating their eczema with steroids is they are increasing the possibility of contracting an impetigo (staph or strep) infection of the affected area.
Oral antibiotics are another conventional approach to skin ailments, especially with acne. The skin may well improve, but long-term use of antibiotics can leave unwanted side-effects. With the eradication of good bacteria in parts of the body such as the immune and digestive systems, and the liver can have follow-on effects that a naturopath will be looking to get balanced.
Symptoms act as an intelligence gathering alarm bell that if only suppressed will lead to more significant symptoms in the long-term and health will suffer as a result.
A naturopathic approach is to give support to organs in the body that help detoxification to keep balance. When the body carries too many toxins, the skin is where they inevitably come out provoking inflammation resulting in skin conditions from acne to eczema.
A Naturopath looks at the liver as a vital organ that detoxifies the body as it helps in eliminating chemicals, hormones and producing digestive juices. Promoting a functioning, healthy liver is fundamental to helping resolve skin conditions.
Acne is typical at a time when there is an influx of hormones such as at puberty when the liver tries to regulate the lack of hormones. So a naturopath balances liver and hormone support to start the process of long-term elimination of acne.
Gut health plays a significant role in skin cures.
Treatment of gut issues is the first step, taking nutrients to heal & rebalance it.
Dietary adjustments must be made by planning out an appropriate plan with avoidance of common allergens and reactive foods a priority.
The naturopathic approach is looking to a whole food diet, hydration and a reduction in stress being essential features. Stress is another crucial factor, stress hormone cortisol and inflammation of the skin appear when stress is prevalent in someone’s life.
A naturopath looks from the inside out and uses skin complaints as a warning sign of imbalances within the body. Nutritional supplements or herbal lotions are used for initial support while the healing process begins. The fact is lifestyle, and dietary adjustments are the starting point for a long-term solution for sufferers as applying topical lotions to the skin does not solving the underlying issues.
Paul Johnson is a freelance writer with over 16 years’ experience in writing about health and fitness, and nutrition, is currently working as an author with https://www.merridycasson.com posting regularly about Wellness, Naturopath Adelaide and skin specialist Adelaide