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 Naturopathic Medicine: Adios Alligator Skin 
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©

If these methods fail, you may not have acne. Cosmetics, soaps, lotions, pollutants and chemicals can all create acne-like blemishes. Many women suffer from the acne of PMS. (Does your acne just appear a week or two before your menstrual period?) Ask your practitioner about other possible causes.

Eczema
Physicians toss many undiagnosed rashes into the wastebasket called "eczema", a word from the Greek meaning to "to boil over". Here we'll discuss atopic dermatitis, also called eczema.

Eczema, a very common rash, appears as dry skin that oozes a clear fluid. The underlying skin is red with blisters and crusting on top. Most people find it nearly impossible to not scratch this itchy rash, hence the leather-like thickening, bleeding and scratch marks that develop. This itch-and-scratch pattern obviously damages skin, and in the long run makes it more susceptible to Staph infections. In older children and adults this distressing rash typically appears on the face, chest, hands, crook of the arm and behind the knees.

Eczema sufferers tend to be allergic as well. At least one-third have a history of respiratory allergies, like hayfever or asthma, and twice that many have family members who are allergy prone. There's also a food allergy connection.

The first step in treating eczema is to reduce or eliminate itching since this symptom leads to skin thickening and infection (and can be unbearable). Relieving stress is the best way to control itchiness. One way to do this is by examining your day: are there ways you can decrease tension? When does your rash itch more? Some people find that a particularly stressful event precedes the urge to scratch. Others discover that nighttime, when stress lets up, is worse. Whatever your pattern, look for ways to reduce daily tension by delegating chores, saying no to all but absolutely necessary demands and don't expect perfection from yourself.

Because eczema has such a strong allergy component, you need to address potential environmental and food allergies. Children are often allergic to dairy products. Other foods that tend to cause allergies in children and adults include wheat, eggs, soy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate and nuts.

You can identify allergens one of two ways. If you suspect certain allergens, like a food, try eliminating it for five to seven days. Record your symptoms during the week, reintroduce the suspected allergen and watch how you react. This method of elimination and challenging allergens can be long and tedious (although it's inexpensive and quite accurate). If you don't want to bother with this method, find a doctor to administer allergy tests.

Whenever an allergy is causing health problems, eating healthy meals low in sugar and fat helps symptoms too. Decreasing your intake of animal fats, as in meat and dairy, will decrease the redness of eczema (or any other inflammatory condition, for that matter). There are, however, some fats that help heal eczematous rashes: fish oils and essential fatty acids. Eicopentaenoic acid, found in fish like herring, mackerel and salmon, and EFAs, especially evening primrose oil, have the opposite effect of animal fats, that is they reduce inflammation.

As with acne and many other skin problems, zinc may help control eczema--particularly if there is a deficiency of this mineral.

Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a case of epidermal cells gone mad. When cell proliferation in the epidermis exceeds normal rates, silvery scales and inflamed, sharply defined patches appear on the backs of arms and elbows, scalp, knees, the back or buttocks. Although psoriasis literally means itchy in Greek, many times these lesions are not itchy. About five percent of cases are accompanied by arthritis, and although different, mimics the painful and sometimes crippling fingers and toes of rheumatoid arthritis.

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