The skin is one of the largest organs in the body and communicates directly with both the external and internal environments. As a result, it is prone to a wide range of disorders. In fact, skin disorders such as dermatitis, eczema, infections, and non-cancerous growths are among the most common reasons people visit a doctor (Kerr 2010; Awadalla 2008). Although many common skin conditions are not life-threatening, they can cause substantial discomfort and emotional distress, especially in chronic cases (Rubsam 2015; Huynh 2013).
Inflammation, chronic stress, infection, changes in the skin microbiome, and nutritional imbalances can contribute to common skin disorders (Kim, Cho 2013; de Graauw 2015; Huynh 2013). Changes in the immune system that occur during the aging process—called immune senescence —can also increase susceptibility to skin problems (Vukmanovic-Stejic 2011; Loo 2004; Berger 2011).
Typical conventional treatments for common skin disorders include topical and/or systemic anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive medications, anti-microbial agents, and minor surgical techniques (Wollenberg 2013; Cevasco 2010; NLM 2017b). However, these approaches can leave much to be desired in terms of efficacy and potential side effects (Rubsam 2015).
Integrative therapies can also aid in the treatment of some skin conditions. Nutritional supplements such as zinc, vitamin C, fish oil, and vitamin D help restore skin integrity and normalize immune function (Gupta 2014; Piotrowska 2016; Moores 2013; Telang 2013; Bjorneboe 1987). Topical herbal therapies such as tea tree oil, garlic, and green tea extract have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, and wound-healing properties. In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that the health of the microbial community present on the skin—the skin microbiome—exerts significant influence over general skin health, highlighting a potential role for probiotics in managing skin disorders.
This protocol will examine the nature of several common skin disorders, broadly categorized as inflammatory, infectious, and neoplastic (growing abnormally). Brief descriptions of each skin disorder and the most common conventional treatments will be described. You will also learn about many natural, integrative interventions and emerging medical therapies that may improve skin health. For more general information about skin health, refer to the Skin, Hair, and Nail Health protocol.
NOTE: Because this protocol covers many skin disorders, you should refer to the table of contents to help locate information of interest to you.
Table of Contents
- SKIN: BASIC STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
- ASSESSING SKIN PROBLEMS
- BACTERIAL SKIN INFECTIONS
- Folliculitis, Furuncles, and Carbuncles
- Erysipelas and Cellulitis
- Conventional Treatment of Bacterial Skin Infections
- Integrative Treatment of Bacterial Skin Infections
- FUNGAL SKIN INFECTIONS
- Cutaneous candidiasis
- Tinea (or pityriasis) versicolor
- Conventional Treatment of Fungal Skin Infections
- Integrative Treatment of Fungal Skin Infections
- VIRAL SKIN INFECTIONS
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Conventional Treatment of Viral Skin Infections
- Integrative Treatment of Viral Skin Infections
- COMMON INFLAMMATORY SKIN DISORDERS
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Contact Dermatitis
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Lichen Planus
- Acne Inversa (Hidradenitis Suppurativa)
- Pityriasis rosea
- Miliaria (Heat Rash or Prickly Heat)
- COMMON SKIN GROWTHS
- Skin tags
- Epidermoid (or inclusion) cysts
- Sebaceous hyperplasia
- Seborrheic keratosis
- Conventional Treatment of Benign Skin Growths
- Integrative Treatment of Benign Skin Growths
- Actinic Keratosis
- GENERAL DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS