It was difficult to spot the difference because you look at your face every morning. You stumble upon an old picture from college or even just five years ago. “My skin used to be so smooth and firm!” “Where did that saggy, extra skin come from underneath my chin?”
Skin issues can be emotionally difficult to deal with. We feel self-conscious when there is a giant, red pimple on our nose or when there are more dark spots and less firmness in our skin. It is the first thing people see and generally, we cannot hide it.
As a teenager, I struggled with acne and later in my twenties, I remember waking up one morning with dry, scaly patches on the bridge of my nose and on my neck. Seemingly overnight, I found myself dealing with moderately severe eczema.
People would ask, “What’s wrong with your neck? Did you get a really bad sunburn.” As much as I tried to convince myself that I was not self-conscious about my skin, these innocent comments from friends and family started to wear down on me.
I would hesitate to wear t-shirts because they exposed my neck, and I did not want to deal with the “innocent” comments or have to explain that I was not contagious. I tried different eczema creams and lotions but this was more than just dry skin.
As much as I disliked going to the doctor, my mom, who is a pharmacist, convinced me to make an appointment with my family physician. My doctor examined my skin and came back after 5 minutes with two tubes of medication—two different forms of topical steroid creams. He said, “Just apply these until the patches go away.”
“How long will I have to use these?”
“Probably off and on for the rest of your life.”
That just did not make any sense to me. This was one of those turning points in my life that started me down the path of looking for answers about what these symptoms mean and how to get to the root cause of the issue rather than just covering up the issue with medications.
Little did I realize, or did my family physician, that my form of eczema (also commonly called atopic dermatitis) was not primarily a skin disease, but rather a sign that my body’s internal environment was out of balance.
My mom was always the one encouraging myself and her customers at the pharmacy to use as few medications as possible. She promoted healthy lifestyle and nutrition because she understood that medications were not the answer to all health problems. You might see why I was inspired to look to a different approach to medicine. My holistic medical education at Bastyr University, an accredited naturopathic medical school, taught me to look at symptoms in the context of whole-body health.
Even if you do not have a skin condition, taking care of your internal environment will keep your skin healthy, radiant, and smooth.
Let me explain.
Aging is kind of a bummer, am I right?
Even though our mothers gave us the heads-up that things are going to change, we then wake up one morning (approx. age 35 for me) and realize that 1) Things HAVE changed, along with 2) Mom was right…AGAIN . And unfortunately, our skin is usually where we see the effects of aging in our bodies first. From dryness, to volume loss and fine lines, to perhaps even the oh-so-unfair adult onset acne, time has a way of wreaking havoc on our once pristine skin.
But the great news is, we can reduce these effects by nourishing our skin from the inside, out. And as a registered dietitian, I’m here to provide a few proven nutrition tips and real-life tricks, to nourish your skin to help keep it glowing and healthy for years to come.
Protecting your skin from the sun is important, no matter what time of year it is, but it’s especially vital in the summertime. While you might want to bare your skin in the summer to achieve a beautiful, sun-kissed complexion, UVA and UVB radiation from the sun can wreak havoc on your skin and cause premature aging if you aren’t careful.
UVA rays, which account for 90 to 95 percent of the UV radiation that reaches the earth, penetrate deep layers of the skin and cause tanning. UVB radiation accounts for only 5 to 10 percent of solar radiation, but it damages the epidermis, or surface layer of the skin, causing sunburn.
UVA rays cause the collagen in your skin to break down at a higher rate than normal aging . They do this by penetrating the dermis, or middle layer of the skin, and lead to the abnormal buildup of elastin. This elastin accumulates and results in the production of enzymes that break down collagen.
The more sun exposure you get, the worse the damage becomes. UV radiation also creates free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that increase the number of enzymes that break down collagen. An excessive amount of free radicals in your body can also weaken your vascular system, cause poor circulation, and lead to deteriorated eye health.