Your skin is the first thing people notice. After all, it is your body’s largest organ. Yet, you may not consider what your skin says about your health.
As we get older, our skin’s appearance changes. Sometimes a change in the appearance of your skin can be an indicator something has gone array. I don’t want you to worry over the smallest imperfection. However, unexplained changes such as skin tags, early aging, or excessively dry skin could be an indicator of an underlying issue.
I’m going to talk about 6 common skin conditions and what your skin is saying about your health. I will also tell you about my proven method to get to the root of your symptoms so you can take back your health and achieve optimal health. Let’s begin by going over your skin’s role in your health.
The Role of Your Skin
As I mentioned, the skin is an organ. It’s made up of fats, water, minerals, and protein.1 Its job is to protect your body. Your skin works as a barrier to germs, a detoxification system, temperature regulator and enables you to feel texture.
Your skin has three layers: The epidermis (the top layer), the dermis (the middle layer), and the hypodermis (the bottom or fatty layer). Each layer has a specific job.
- The epidermis: Protects against bacteria and germs, makes new skin, and provides skin its color.
- The dermis: Grows hair, makes oil, supplies blood to the epidermis, produces sweat to remove toxins and helps regulate body temperature.
- The hypodermis: Connects skin to muscles and bones to provide cushion, contains fat to help regulate body temperature.
As your body’s natural armor, your skin is susceptible to various issues as it is exposed to outside elements such as allergens, the sun, bacteria, and viruses. So, what does your skin say about your health? Let’s talk about 6 common skin issues and what your skin might be trying to tell you.
6 Common Skin Conditions
Everything from hormonal imbalances, to nutrient deficiencies, to low collagen, to gut infection could be the root cause of common skin conditions. What your skin says about your health could come in the form of skin tags, eczema, acne, and dry skin.
As you get older, you might notice small flaps of skin hanging. These are known as skin tags and they are small, soft, noncancerous growths that usually form in the skin folds of the neck, armpits, and eyelids. These growths are often attached to a fleshy stalk and are either brown or skin-colored.
An estimated 1/2 of adults in the United States have at least one skin tag somewhere on their body.2 These harmless growths are usually not painful, however they can become irritated if clothing or jewelry rubs them. They are very common in people that are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
While skin tags are harmless, they may be a sign of insulin resistance, too much insulin, or high blood glucose levels. Skin tags could also be a sign of metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, excess body fat, or high cholesterol.
An A1C blood test can measure your blood sugar levels to determine if you have diabetes and can be ordered by your functional medicine practitioner. You should also avoid processed foods and sugary drinks to regulate your blood sugar. You likely are aware that soda, energy drinks, and those fancy coffee drinks and teas all contain a huge amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Yet even options you think are healthy, including green juices, kombucha, and even freshly-squeezed fruit juice, all pack in the sugar.
If you have diabetes, I recommend eating organic berries, especially blueberries due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, leafy green vegetables, turmeric and cinnamon, wild-caught fish, and cooking with extra virgin olive oil.
Eczema comes in many forms, yet it is usually identified by a red, itchy rash on the outer layer of skin. It’s a very common skin condition that isn’t contagious. This inflammatory condition is commonly caused by allergies or food allergies.3 However, an overactive immune system or autoimmune disease can also cause eczema.
In almost a decade of experience as a functional medicine physician treating thousands of patients, I have seen that the most common cause of skin issues is a gut infection such as Candida overgrowth, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), or leaky gut.
Treating the inflammation that’s triggering your eczema from the inside out can reverse your symptoms. I recommend ditching inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, and soy and adding more antioxidant foods. If that doesn’t address your eczema, then I recommended eating a low-histamine diet by removing avocados, eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, bacon, citrus fruits, and dried fruits. I’ve had many patients see their skin health dramatically improve by removing these foods.
Dry skin is commonly caused by dehydration, however it could be your skin telling you about your health. Flaky, dry skin can signal nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and even cardiovascular disease. Menopause often causes dry skin due to a shift in hormones. Thyroid disease may also be an underlying cause of dry skin.
Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water or using a hydrating serum. You should aim to drink ½ your body weight in ounces every day to stay properly hydrated. I also recommend adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Wild-caught seafood is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States suffer from psoriasis.4 What many people don’t know is that natural psoriasis treatment begins deep inside your body, not on the surface of your skin!
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that speeds up the lifecycle of your body’s skin cells. Typically, your skin renews every 4 weeks. Yet, with psoriasis it could go through this process within days. This results in itchy, painful, thick, and scaly skin patches.
Gut infections, a diet rich in inflammatory foods, and stress play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis. Additionally, newer research suggests that psoriasis is also closely associated with metabolic syndrome.5
Repairing your gut is essential to restoring your immune system and treating your psoriasis naturally. I’ll tell you how you can address your gut and reverse your symptoms later.
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States.6 It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
Hormonal imbalances are one of the biggest causes of acne. There are three reasons behind this: PCOS, menopause, or mensuration. Hormonal imbalances from birth control pills can also cause acne. Acne may also be a sign that you have an underlying gut infection such as Candida overgrowth.
If you notice signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles, dark spots, and sagging skin, your skin might be telling you something is wrong. Oxidative damage from free radicals, a poor diet, smoking, stress, and environmental toxins damages your skin’s tissues. This can cause premature skin aging that shows up as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, and even more serious skin conditions such as skin cancer.
To address premature aging, removing processed sugars, removing toxins, and reducing your stress will help you reverse the signs of premature aging.
Your skin says a lot about your health. Underlying causes such as a poor diet, toxin exposure, stress, or gut infections may be the underlying cause of your skin issues. The good news is that you can reverse your symptoms and get to the root cause by using my proven method that I’ve successfully used with thousands of patients. I call it The Myers Way®.
Get to the Root Cause with The Myers Way®
The Myers Way® is a proven approach based in functional medicine, a medical approach that looks at how all the body’s systems interact and aims to get them functioning optimally. This approach rests on four pillars, each of which has been tested through extensive research and years of experience as a physician.
Pillar I: Heal Your Gut
The 4R approach is a proven method to heal your gut.
- Remove the bad – Get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract, such as inflammatory and toxic foods, and intestinal infections such as yeast overgrowth and SIBO.
- Restore what’s missing — Adding digestive enzymes and Gut Restore with Betaine and HCL to your daily regimen will help support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as assist your body’s intestinal repair and inflammation responses.
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria — Restore beneficial bacteria with probiotics to re-establish a healthy balance of good bacteria to heal your gut.
- Repair the gut — Provide nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself. L-glutamine is an amino acid that will support gut lining. Drinking bone broth or collagen will also help to heal your gut, as will supplementing with omega-3s, zinc, and herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.
Pillar II: Get Rid of Gluten, Grains, and Legumes
Gut infections put you on the autoimmune spectrum, which is why healing your gut is the first pillar of The Myers Way®. Once you’ve healed your gut, it’s time to make lifestyle and diet changes by eliminating foods that are causing inflammation and damage to your intestinal tract: Gluten, grains, and legumes!
I also recommend that those with autoimmune diseases avoid vegetables in the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. These plants are very high in lectins that damage the gut lining, easily enter the bloodstream, and do not break down in cooking.
If you are following an elimination diet, there will be many foods you will avoid temporarily and then reintroduce. Grains, pseudograins, legumes, and a few other foods will probably need to stay out of your diet for good. I don’t recommend that anyone add gluten back into their diet.
Pillar III: Tame the Toxins
You are exposed to thousands of toxins every day, even if you don’t live in a polluted area or work in an industrial job. They’re found in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, cookware, cosmetics, and cleaning products. While you can’t avoid toxins completely, the solution is to reduce your body’s toxic burden and detox it. First you address the toxins in your home by:
- Buying clean body products.
- Clean your water by installing water filters on your sinks and shower taps. I, myself, have a full filtration system from Aquasana.
- Cleaning your air by getting a HEPA filter for your home. I use AIRDoctor® air filters in my home.
- Buy clean food and eat organic whenever possible. It can be expensive, so if anything, buy grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught seafood.
- Use clean skin care products.
Your body creates its own master detoxifier called glutathione. I recommend supplementing with extra glutathione while your body is trying to excrete toxins, especially if you are anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum.
Pillar IV: Heal Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
If your symptoms haven’t cleared up after addressing the first three pillars, there’s more work to do. Healing your infections and relieving your stress is the final pillar in The Myers Way®:
Adopt daily stress-relieving strategies. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Breathing: When you find yourself overwhelmed with stress, take a moment to connect with your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and out until your anxiety has calmed.
- Music: Listening to music can release endorphins and reduce your cortisol levels.
- Dance: Just moving your body can help you shake off your stress.
- Gentle exercise: Try yoga, or a long walk in a natural setting–changing your environment can also help you get away from your stress.
For total support, The Myers Way® Autoimmune Kit is a combination of four of the most important nutritional supplements for anyone concerned with autoimmunity. Your immune system is a complex puzzle influenced by many aspects of health. The integrity of your gut barrier, oxidative damage done by free radicals, toxic load and detoxification, inflammation, and much more all play a role in how your immune system functions.
Your skin protects you in so many ways. That includes alerting us to something going on under the surface such as hormone imbalances, high blood glucose, food sensitivities, and much more. Knowing what your skin says about your health can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and take back your health. Now that you have the tools, you can get to the root cause and achieve optimal health!
- Skin: An Overview. Cleveland Clinic. 2021.
- Skin Tags. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. 2021.
- Eczema: An Overview. . Cleveland Clinic. 2020.
- Skin Conditions: By the Numbers. American Academy of Dermatology. 2020.
- Psoriasis and the metabolic syndrome. Paolo Gisondi . Clinical Dermatology. 2017.
- Skin Conditions: By the Numbers. American Academy of Dermatology. 2020.