There is a lot of talk about inflammation today and how all diseases can be traced back to inflammatory imbalances. What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm.
Inflammation is caused by three primary triggers:
- wounds or trauma
- microbial invasion
- nutrition and diet
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
The food choices we make can help control inflammation. Too little of an inflammatory response can lead to wounds not healing quickly and microbes are left to thrive in the body. Too much inflammation and the body begins to attack itself, leading to chronic disease. It is important that we do our best to try and keep ourselves in balance.
You’re probably more familiar with the acute type of inflammation, which occurs when you injure yourself. Your immune system triggers an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area where the injury occurred, creating visible redness and swelling. The process works similarly if you have an infection like the flu or bronchitis.
In these examples, inflammation is essential—without it, injuries could fester and simple infections could be deadly. Inflammation keeps us alive. It’s when the inflammation becomes chronic that it is thought to be an underlying factor that is linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers, allergies, asthma, weight gain, and accelerated aging.
When there is a trigger, the inflammatory response to correct things is called the initiation response, once things are resolved, there is a resolution response which shuts off the inflammatory response. It is when this does not occur that inflammation turns to cellular inflammation, leading to chronic disease.
Inflammation and Diet
Our best line of defense against cellular inflammation is consuming a healthy and whole diet that is balanced with low fat proteins and plant-based carbohydrates.
- Avoid: Omega 6 fatty acids like vegetable oils, saturated fats and excess amounts of carbohydrates from grains, starches, and sugar
- Increase: Omega 3 from fish, polyphenols, fruits, and vegetables
This will look very similar to the Mediterranean diet. As you can see, unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices can actually make us sick.
“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”
– Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Diet
Inflammation In The Skin
Although inflammation in the body can remain unseen for some, it can begin to show itself on the skin. Inflammation can present as acne, hyperpigmentation, rashes, eczema, and so much more.
Severe Cystic Acne
Severe cystic acne consists of multiple inflamed cysts, nodules, blackheads and whiteheads. They can be very deep red in color or even in some cases, purple. This type of acne is considered to be very severe and it can cause scarring. Reducing inflammation is one of the priorities to treating this type of acne.
In order to treat acne, we recommend starting with a professional consultation with an experienced esthetician who is also knowledgeable in nutritional skin care and gut health. Inflamed acne can lead to hyperpigmentation which can be caused by squeezing and irritating the blemish. It is best to leave it alone and have it professionally treated for quicker healing and without the risk of becoming hyperpigmented.
Having professional deep cleansing facials combined with chemical and or physical exfoliation have proven to be very beneficial in treating acne combined with proper home care performed daily. The professional facials offer dissolving and removal of hardened sebum in the follicle which would ultimately lead to inflammation and potential post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Acne on other parts of the body in addition to the face such as the chest and back, is usually a sign of a more systemic condition. Looking at diet and lifestyle can help determine a proper approach.
Acne Home Care Tips
- Do not squeeze or try to extract impurities yourself
- Reduce inflammation with warm compresses can lesson the potential for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and soften blemishes
- Use proper skin care at home and gentle exfoliation
- Drink a lot of water, and eat nutritious food including fruits and vegetables. Test how reducing or cutting out sugar, dairy, alcohol, and/or meat and shellfish can help reduce breakouts
- Keep a food diary to see any patterns you may notice that could be triggers
- Sun Damage and Inflammation
Certain medications, injury, or trauma to the skin can cause inflammation and stimulate melanocytes, which in turn leads to hyperpigmentation. Think of the melanocytes as a little army coming out to protect your internal organs from the invasion, it’s really a defense mechanism. So, in relation to acne, it’s the inflammation or trauma and the bacteria that’s causing the melanocytes to come out and protect the skin.
Hyperpigmentation from sun exposure is the result of excessive contact with the sun’s ultraviolet rays leading to inflammation. There are two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB.
UVA rays are the longest rays from the sun and they make up most of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. UVA rays are equally intense throughout the day and they are just as strong in winter as they are during the summer months. They pass through clouds and even glass windows on a hazy day, penetrating deep into the dermal layer.
Eating foods that are rich in beta-carotenes like oranges, carrots, and sweet potatoes can actually help protect us from sun damage. Beta-carotenes also suppress inflammation. A healthy dose of sunlight is okay, you just have to be aware of how long you’re out, when the sun’s rays are at their peak and the most damaging.
In addition to reviewing your diet, combat inflammation topically with the appropriate skincare. Use sunscreen everyday and choose a serum that utilizes potent antioxidants. Dubois Beauty’s Vital A has two active ingredients that are largely responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties:
Bakuchiol (pronounced ba-koo-heel) – is an extract derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant. It’s an herb commonly used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, as well as Tamil Siddha practices, to help heal, calm, and soothe the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Bisabolol – sourced from organically cultivated ginger extract. An antioxidant that protects the skin from daily free radical aggressions, soothes redness and irritated skins by targeting inflammatory mediators.
“Vitamin A is one of the most critical skin vitamins. Every time we go out into sunlight we significantly deplete our vitamin A . Vitamin A is responsible for regulating so many functions in the skin. Start with every other evening for a few weeks, then increase to daily evening application. Working up to daily use is ideal.” – Denise