Could your skin actually be malnourished?
While I do find the whole philosophy of ‘if you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin’ incredibly misleading I am becoming increasingly convinced that there are circumstances under which our skin can become malnourished. Before I go on I will remind you that I am not a dermatologist, doctor or nutritionist. I’m just a cosmetic chemist who was born with eczema and a range of other skin conditions so I guess in that regard you could also classify me as a living, breathing canvas on which I experiment. OK, let’s go.
Chronic ‘dis-ease’ of the body that triggers an increase in histamine production – eczema and psoriasis are two, allergies and digestive issues are others – has been found to affect how the microcirculation develops and functions. Our circulation is our bodies transportation network. The arteries are the super-highways carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart, veins are the highways carry the used up blood back to the heart and the microcirculation as shown below are the b roads, country lanes and drive ways that deliver and pick up nutrient or waste from the bodies outposts – the bits that the big roads miss. Our skin is nursed by our microcirculation with it delivering the ‘food’ while also playing a big role in removing waste so it makes sense that changes in its efficiency will impact how well nourished and de-toxified our skin actually is.
What I’ve found through reading (and no, not reading google blogs although yes, this ironically is also a blog but I’d encourage you to dig further and do some ‘research’ for yourself on Research Gate, Deep Dyvve, Google Scholar or equivalent) is that the microcirculation in psoriasis and eczema sufferers was compromised in a similar way to how a road network would be compromised if there were pot holes, diversions or congestion. Researchers have found that histamine release affects how the microcirculation grows and develops which also makes sense when you take a step back and think about it. Histamine is what the body releases to tell the brain that the body is under attack and needs ‘saving’ by the immune system. When histamine is released the capillaries become more leaky to allow for the passage of white blood cells (our little soldiers) to go clean up the mess. Now this is all well and good if you get stung by something on the hand maybe and your body sends out the histamine distress call, the soldiers come running and put your hand to rights, but this is less useful if your body is set up in a rather over-reactive or ultra-sensitive way as can be seen in some of the conditions above. Permanently leaky capillaries are going to be pretty useless at delivering ‘nutrition’ to the skin and that is where my theory comes from.
Being someone who has had eczema pretty much since birth I have always thought that my ‘bad’ skin (not perfect) was a logical result of the skin condition – maybe not enough fatty acids to protect the skin barrier, disfunction with skin cell growth or shedding etc. However, now I am inclined to think that my skin may be malnourished and that it is the malnourishment that is the rate-determining-step or to put it another way, hungry skin can’t ever stand a chance in resisting and repairing other deficiencies. You can’t build a house, bake a cake or draw a picture without supplies and my supplies are leaking out of my capillaries before they reach their destination!
I believe that this leaking could have two effects – one, that the ‘food’ isn’t getting to the intended cells and so no matter how healthy the diet, the lifestyle and the mind the person will still be more vulnerable to dermal malnourishment and two, that the toxins that are supposed to go back the other way are pooling in the tissues and contributing to the general level of irritation and discomfort of the skin. I say this because another thing that I’ve experienced is liver failure (due to some prescribed medicines I have to say and yes, it is all better now). Liver failure creates a situation where bile and bile waste builds up in the blood and causes itching of the skin (as well as that lovely yellow look that liver disease is famous for. I had that and people thought I had a lovely tan until my eyes went yellow). If liver waste can cause the blood to turn itchy why can’t other types of waste I wonder?
So what’s the bottom line for skin care/ cosmetics?
The histamine link above has opened my eyes to the possibility that the skin of people with chronic inflammation might actually be malnourished and that has led me to think about what we might be able to do to normalise this. Normalising the skin would have to involve feeding it topically and thus avoiding the leaking circulation and that’s good as that is exactly what cosmetics do. Topically we can affect the skin with things like vitamin A, C and E, some of the B vitamins and some essential fatty acids (in vegetable oils), plus we can provide the skin with a barrier – either fully or partially occlusive. We can also moisturise and protect from further environmental damage (SPF products etc). In one way or another the skin can metabolise all of the above and use it to fuel healthy cell development and as such my conclusion is this. Active skincare, carefully created so as to avoid becoming another histamine trigger could be JUST what the doctor ordered when it comes to building healthy, resilient skin for those who have a twitchy histamine trigger. The other thing I’d prescribe if I was a doctor would be hypnotherapy as it is possible, with a little mind work, to relax that trigger just a little.
So that’s what I’ve found out over the last few weeks. I will continue digging around and experimenting on myself to find out if I can improve my ‘bad’ skin this way. I’ve only just started on some vitamin A, C and E night serum and Vitamin C, B and hyaluronic acid day serum so I’ll let you know.