Our skin is our largest and one of the most important organs we have. It’s our protective shield against the harms of the outside world like bacteria and infection, provides our sense of touch, and regulates body heat. All of our organ systems are connected and skin is what wraps it all up in a pretty box. So when you notice some not-so-pretty changes to your skin, it’s probably trying to tell you that something isn’t quite right inside, and you should listen to it and seek proper care. Use your skin as the window into your body, and be on the lookout for some of these skin problems that could be more than just harmless spots and bumps.
Acne occurs as a result of our tiny little pores getting clogged with excess oil, dirt, and bacteria. Breaking out every once in a while is uncontrollable and nothing to stress about, but if you have consistent, excessive acne, it could be caused by a multitude of underlying problems. The location of your acne is typically a good indicator of where the problem lies.
- Jawline - Acne that lingers around your jawline is the result of hormonal imbalances that come from stress, a diet full of processed sugar and dairy, or those pesky hormone fluctuations women get throughout their menstrual cycle. All of these are perfectly normal, and the acne should come and go, so your best bet is to focus on shifting to a cleaner diet and finding mechanisms to handle your stress. However, if acne persists and doesn’t give way it’s possible that you have a hormonal condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which case it’s best to check in with your doctor to find a solution that will regulate hormones and smooth your skin.
- Hairline - If you comb back your bangs only to find a path of pimples along your hairline, then your hair care products probably left it there. Ingredients found in shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and coconut oil clog pores and cause breakouts. Switch out your hair care products for sulfate free hair care products so you can pin your bangs back with pride.
- Forehead, Nose, and Chin - Our forehead, nose, and chin, also known as the T-zone, has more oil glands than the rest of the face. This makes the area more prone to clogged pores that lead to blackheads and whiteheads. Some of this is unavoidable if you naturally produce a lot of oil, but the problem is expedited if you pack on makeup that clogs pores even further. Non-comedogenic makeup is specifically formulated to stay out of your pores, and not worsen the oil buildup.
- Cheeks - The oil buildup that causes acne on the cheeks can be the outcome of several factors. If you sleep on your side and don’t wash your pillowcases often, the built up bacteria will make its way to your cheeks and cause breakouts. Our cellphones are another bacteria and oil cesspool and pressing it to your cheek daily transfers all of that over. Don’t touch your face often, remove makeup completely with a gentle cleanser, and regularly wash or sterilize anything that’ll be touching your cheek throughout the day.
- Mouth - Those villainous sulfates in your shampoo we talked about earlier, might also be making an appearance in your toothpaste, and clogging the pores around your mouth. Whitening agents and fluoride are also common irritants that could have something to do with acne. Start scrubbing your teeth with a fluoride and sulfate free toothpaste made of all natural ingredients and watch acne (and cavities) go down the drain.
FRECKLES, MOLES, AND SUN SPOTS
Freckles, moles, and other sunspots are the result of lifelong sun damage. If your fair skinned and forgetful when it comes to SPF protection you’ve probably experienced your fair share. Nowadays, drawn on freckles are the latest makeup trend, so it can be tempting to step into the sun without adequate protection, but if sun damage continues it can lead to skin cancer. But don’t worry, if you’re already rocking the speckled skin fashion accessory you most likely don’t have to fear for your skin, just make sure you take further precaution by lathering up in a zinc-oxide based sunscreen every morning and avoiding the tanning bed, but if you notice any significant changes in shape and size of your moles or sunspots, consult a doctor to be safe.
If you’re sleeping eight hours a night, but your eyes are still getting puffy, as well as itchy and/or watery, you could be having an allergic reaction to one or more of the ingredients in your eye makeup. Hypoallergenic eye makeup is formulated free of common allergens in makeup like sulfates, parabens, and fragrances, which will help alleviate puffy, itchy eyes.
More info on makeup allergies here.
Another way your skin tries to alert you that you may have an allergy is hives, a raised, red, itchy skin rash. Hives can be triggered by medication, food, pet dander, dust mites, latex, as well as and a slew of other allergens, so check in with your doctor to see what you should be avoiding, and look out for those allergens in the ingredients of the products you use on your skin.
BLOTCHY, ITCHY, RED DOTS
Similar to hives, dermatitis herpetiformis causes a stinging, itchy, red rash. However it appears more like a spotted pattern of blisters and specifically pops up on the elbows, knees, lower back, back of the neck, or your bottom. This painful rash is an indicator of gluten intolerance, or furthermore, celiac disease. The only long term solution is to cut gluten out of your diet completely. Gluten can also hide in makeup and skin care products that contain ingredients like hydrolyzed wheat gluten, barley extract, wheat germ glyceride, and numerous others. Clearly labeled gluten-free skin care, hair care, and makeup ought to go hand-in-hand with a gluten free diet to keep your skin rash free.
We’ve all made the mistake of licking our lips when they’re chapped to try to mend the problem, and just had it get worse. The truth is, licking your lips is often the cause of chapped lips to begin with, as well as dehydration and dry weather. You could also be allergic to some of the ingredients in your lip balms, lipsticks, or even your toothpaste. Dry, cracked lips are a pain so keep them free of saliva, and reach for a hypoallergenic lip balm with no artificial flavors or fragrances. And, as always, make sure to stay hydrated.
RED SCALY PATCHES
Psoriasis is a skin condition that speeds up skin cells’ life cycle and causes an overgrowth of skin that shows up as thick red patches with silvery scales that can often crack and bleed. The cause is unknown, but factors like smoking, stress, alcohol, and hormonal shifts often cause outbreaks. There is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be managed with a balanced diet, stress management, and using irritant free skin and hair care products to alleviate some of the symptoms.
LISTEN TO YOUR SKIN
Our skin changes rapidly and often and there’s an overwhelming amount of different symptoms that can be painful, irritating, or just a knock to your self confidence. Really these reactions are just our skin trying to tell us something isn’t quite right in this labyrinth of a body we have. Some dryness, redness, and acne is normal and harmless so continue regular cleansing and moisturizing and see if it clears up on its own after a few days, but if problems persist or it seems like something more serious is going on, use these tips to help find temporary relief, then see your doctor to find a solution, because the healthier your skin, the healthier your body, and the better you feel.