General Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations
Proper nutritional intake is essential for skin health, and nutritional status disorders such as obesity and malnutrition often lead to skin problems (Liakou 2013; Park 2015; Pappas 2016). Excess glucose and insufficient protein can interfere with normal healing processes, and a balance of fatty acids is needed to maintain epidermal integrity and regulate inflammation and immune activity in skin (Nicolaou 2013; Kawahito 2009; Molnar 2014; Anderson 2012; Alexander 2014). Vitamins A, C, D, and E, B-complex vitamins, and the trace minerals zinc, copper, and selenium, all have important roles in protecting skin health, and deficiencies have been linked to specific skin disorders (Park 2015; Pappas 2016). Carotenoids and polyphenols from plant-based foods protect the skin against free radical damage (Pappas 2016).
In general, a healthy eating pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and foods that are low in sugar and saturated fat is associated with healthy skin and can be broadly recommended to people with skin disorders (Katta 2014). Lower rates of atopic dermatitis have been correlated with consumption of rice, fermented vegetables, and coffee in Korean populations (Park, Choi 2016; Park, Bae 2016) and consumption of fresh fruits and legumes in a Colombian population (Cepeda 2015).
Food allergy may play a role in atopic dermatitis, with eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, soy, and peanuts all being likely culprits. In atopic dermatitis patients with known food allergies, elimination of the allergenic foods from the diet can be helpful (Greenhawt 2010; Mohajeri 2014). Removing certain food additives, such as sorbic acid and tartrazine, from the diet may reduce symptoms in some patients with atopic dermatitis (Mohajeri 2014). In some individuals with nickel allergy, urticaria can be triggered by exposure to nickel that occurs naturally in foods or that has leached into food from stainless steel cookware. For these individuals, a low-nickel diet may be helpful (Antico 1999; Buyukozturk 2015; Abeck 1993; Zirwas 2009).
It is widely assumed that water intake has a positive effect on skin health, and a study published in 2015 has given additional support to this notion. In the study, 49 healthy women were randomly assigned to drink either less than or more than 3200 mL of water per day for one month. In general, the women assigned to the high water intake group increased their water intake by about 2 liters per day. At the end of the study, deep and superficial skin hydration and tests of skin physiology had improved in women drinking extra water (Palma 2015).
The well-established connection between the skin and mind is the basis of an emerging field called psychodermatology (Jafferany 2016). Hormones involved in the stress response stimulate inflammatory signaling in the skin (Kim, Cho 2013), and stress may affect the skin and gut microbiotas, further contributing to disturbed immune function and inflammation (Bailey 2016). Emotional stress can precipitate or exacerbate inflammatory skin disorders such as acne, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and urticaria (Jafferany 2016; Huynh 2013). Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training, hypnosis, stress management, biofeedback, and guided imagery have all been used successfully to treat skin disorders (Jafferany 2016). You can read more about healthy ways to handle stress in the Stress Management protocol.
Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Disorders
Photodynamic therapy involves the application of a topical photosensitizing agent (usually aminolevulinic acid or methyl aminolevulinate) and light to induce oxidative damage in the skin being treated. Although photodynamic therapy has long been used in the treatment of actinic keratosis, it has recently been proposed to have benefits in infectious and inflammatory skin disorders (Kim, Jung 2015; Wan 2014).
Researchers have found that photodynamic therapy can be effective for eradicating genital warts and persistent warts on the palms and soles (Kim, Jung 2015). It has also shown efficacy in treating sebaceous hyperplasia, particularly when combined with laser therapy (Simmons 2015). Preclinical research and early studies in humans suggest photodynamic therapy may be effective against fungal skin infections such as those caused by dermatophytes and by Malassezia and Candida species (Baltazar, Ray 2015). Intriguingly, preclinical research suggests curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compound from turmeric ( Curcuma longa) (Mahmood 2015), may be an effective photosensitizer against dermatophytes (Brasch 2017; Baltazar, Krausz 2015).
Photodynamic therapy can cause an array of local adverse side effects, including redness, swelling, burning, prickling, ulceration, and pain that is often severe (Kim, Jung 2015). One strategy for reducing pain is to use daylight as the light source. In some studies, daylight in combination with photosensitizing methyl aminolevulinate cream appeared to be a promising approach in terms of effectiveness in treating actinic keratosis, and was accompanied by less pain compared with other forms of photodynamic therapy (Fitzmaurice 2016).
Disclaimer and Safety Information
This information (and any accompanying material) is not intended to replace the attention or advice of a physician or other qualified health care professional. Anyone who wishes to embark on any dietary, drug, exercise, or other lifestyle change intended to prevent or treat a specific disease or condition should first consult with and seek clearance from a physician or other qualified health care professional. Pregnant women in particular should seek the advice of a physician before using any protocol listed on this website. The protocols described on this website are for adults only, unless otherwise specified. Product labels may contain important safety information and the most recent product information provided by the product manufacturers should be carefully reviewed prior to use to verify the dose, administration, and contraindications. National, state, and local laws may vary regarding the use and application of many of the treatments discussed. The reader assumes the risk of any injuries. The authors and publishers, their affiliates and assigns are not liable for any injury and/or damage to persons arising from this protocol and expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
The protocols raise many issues that are subject to change as new data emerge. None of our suggested protocol regimens can guarantee health benefits. The publisher has not performed independent verification of the data contained herein, and expressly disclaim responsibility for any error in literature.