09 Jun 2015

Inflammation in the Skin

Beauty No Comments

This article is a repost from Dr. Trevor Cates:

Skin Inflammation can be the root of so many issues both internally and externally

Inflammation is not something to take lightly for your health or your beauty.  


 What is inflammation?

In ideal circumstances, inflammation is actually a good thing. It’s the bodies built in  defence system, providing protection from invading bacteria, viruses and injuries.  When the body is under assault, it responds by setting in motion an inflammatory  process that sends chemicals from the body’s white blood cells to the area at risk.

Then, after the infection has healed, the inflammation is supposed to go away. But  sometimes the system gets out of whack, leading to chronic, low levels of  inflammation that linger anywhere in the body and within your blood vessels, joints or  organs.

When the inflammation is in the skin, which is the body’s largest organ, it can affect  not only your health, but also your looks

 Where’s it coming from?

There is no one culprit when it comes to inflammation and the cause could be coming  from within your body or from external, environmental factors. Stress, lack of sleep,  unhealthy diet, pollution, second hand smoke, sun exposure and these can all lead to  skin inflammation.

How inflammation from the inside affects beauty on the outside

The skin is an active organ (not just a barrier between your insides and the outside world) that is affected by stress hormones when under assault. The “stress hormone” cortisol elevates during stress, and in the short term is actually a good thing as it helps your body handle stress. But if you have chronic, constant stress, cortisol backfires and causes inflammation.

Diet plays a role in causing inflammation as well. The foods that are the worst offenders are ones you probably should ditch from your diet anyway like saturated fats, fried foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Your digestive health plays a big role, as well. When the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract are thrown out of balance from stress, poor diet or certain meds like antibiotics, it can lead to inflammation internally. This shows up in the skin.

This internally caused inflammation can take a toll on the skin in a variety of ways including acne breakouts, rosacea and visible signs of aging (like wrinkles and sagging skin). The higher the cortisol is, the more wound-healing slows and the more break down there is of collagen. This can accelerate the aging process. Collagen is the stuff that keeps skin full, and elastic, and as it breaks down, skin starts to sag, wrinkle and generally look less vibrant.

Acne is also an inflammatory condition. Just look at how angry those swollen, red bumps can be! As such, it is exacerbated by stress.

Another skin condition that can get worse when there’s inflammation is rosacea. The redness that shows up on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin is triggered by inflammation, whether that inflammation comes from stress, sun exposure, food or hormones.

Since stress is one of the main reasons for inflammatory skin damage, anything you can do to reduce stress is going to help. Getting more exercise and better sleep are two ways to combat the situation. Exercise boosts the release of endorphins, which are anti-inflammatory hormones. Sleep is also key because when you’re sleeping endorphin levels are at their highest and cortisol levels at their lowest. This gives your skin a chance to heal and repair which is why it’s called “beauty sleep!”

Eat a diet that’s rich in anti-inflammatory compounds

Consuming the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats will help reduce the levels of prostaglandins which are pro-inflammatory in the skin. The healthiest way to ingest these is to add flaxseeds and fatty fishes, like wild Alaskan salmon to your diet on a regular basis.

For more healthy skin nutrition, load your plate with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables (like berries and leafy greens). Free radicals promote inflammation and damage to the skin.

How inflammation from the outside affects your skin

Pair inflammation on the inside with assaults from the outside and you’ve got yourself a skin-aging double whammy.

One of the most damaging external causes of skin inflammation is the sun. Ultra violet rays generate molecules called free radicals, which cause inflammation.

Whether its short-term issues (like hives, a rash or sunburn) or the cumulative effect of chronic assaults, inflammation does take a toll on the skin. The skin’s barrier function weakens which leads to more trans-epidermal water loss; this leaves skin drier and more prone to sensitivity. So even if you don’t normally have sensitive skin, you could suddenly find yourself getting irritated more easily.

Inflammation caused by sun exposure accelerates the breakdown of collagen causing skin to look old before its time.

Sunblock is a key element when it comes to protecting skin. Block the inflammatory pathway that the sun’s UV rays create by wearing zinc oxide based sunblock when you go in the sun.

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