Like any allergy, a skin allergy occurs when your immune system “overreacts” to something you’ve been exposed to. It triggers a reaction that can cause uncomfortable rash, itching, burning, redness, bumps, hives, and swelling. If you suffer from a skin allergy you may be wondering if it’s possible to ever get real, lasting relief. Dr. Z says the answer is Yes—and functional medicine can help.
First, let’s look at what causes skin allergy
According to Dr. Z, skin allergy often manifests problems that are much deeper—at the gut level. “Because the gut microbiota plays such a central role in the body’s immune response, it makes sense that a skin allergy is just another symptom of inflammation and an unhealthy gut,” explains Dr. Z.
As a functional allergist, Dr. Z looks at skin allergies through the mindset of always looking deeper to find the reason for the symptoms. “Patients often want to know why it’s happening, not just to cover up symptoms,” he says. When it comes to diagnosing and treating skin allergies, he combines both traditional medicine and functional medicine. “Typically, we first need to get the condition under control, which can involve the use of medication,” he explains. “But once it’s under control, we look for the root cause so we can prevent the problem from coming back.”
A functional medicine success story
One of Dr. Z’s patients had been living with rashes on her body for over 25 years. She’d been diagnosed with polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), a sensitivity to sunlight. “The interesting thing was that she was experiencing rashes on parts of her body that were not exposed to light,” says Dr. Z. When the patient came to AAPRI she felt like there had to be something else going on beyond the PMLE. Dr. Z recommended food sensitivity testing to find out if there was a root cause to her rashes and it was discovered that she was sensitive to corn. “We took her off corn and all corn-containing foods and within a few weeks, her rashes were gone,” he notes.
A word of caution about over-the-counter products
When diagnosing skin problems, allergists do patch testing to isolate the particular allergen. This usually involves bringing in samples of the specific products you use at home—everything from laundry detergent to shampoo to cosmetics. Dr. Z has seen many, many patients with allergies to a whole host of products. One patient came in with an itchy rash all over his face and upper torso. Patch testing revealed that he was allergic to his shaving cream, which he’d been using in the shower so it rinsed off and ran down his chest. After he stopped using that product, his rash cleared up.
Dr. Z cautions that just because a product is available without a prescription, it doesn’t mean it’s benign. A great example of this point is sunscreen products with chemical ingredients vs. mineral-based sunscreens. Chemical-based sunscreens are absorbed into the body and can go straight into the blood stream, whereas mineral-based simply provide a barrier and are not absorbed into the skin. “So be careful about what you’re putting on your body—this goes for cosmetics, lotions, etc.—and try to stick with naturally derived products,” he says.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Z or any of our other dedicated team members at the office location of your choice.