More Skin Care Advice

Find very interesting articles and advice about skin types on this page. And also the different types of skin on our Your Skin page or natural medicine page.

Allergic Skin

What is an Allergy?

What goes wrong in an allergy, is that the body makes antibodies in response to a harmless antigen, such as a food molecule. IgE antibodies are usually found on the surface of special immune cells known as mast cells that occur in tissues throughout the body. If the molecules on the surface of a mast cell bind to their specific antigen they stimulate the mast cell to release several chemical messengers. The normal purpose of these chemicals is to organise a more effective immune response, but in sufficient quantities they can produce the damaging symptoms of allergy. The Antigen that causes such a reaction is known as an allergen.'

Allergy Testing

Allergy problems seem to be becoming increasingly common; atopic disease such as Eczema, Asthma and Hayfever have reached epidemic proportions in our children, and food sensitivities can be responsible for a wide spectrum of complaints including infant colic, recurrent diarrhoea, nettlerash, headaches, and hyperactivity. If you think that an allergy may be responsible for your child's health problem what can you do about it? The first thing is to see whether your instincts are correct and to have them allergy tested. There are several ways in which to do this:

RAST Your GP can send you for a test known as a RAST [radio-allergo-sorbent test]. This is a test, which measures the IgE response a person has to a food protein or pollen. This can be very useful in confirming an allergic reaction, but as previously mentioned it would not cover intolerance's that arise via a different mechanism.

Skin Prick Test This is a very common test for allergy which looks at the reaction of the skin to a range of common allergens, or to one specific allergen if there is a strong suspicion of it. However, confirmation is needed. A drop of the allergen is placed on the arm and scratch or prick is made in the skin underneath the drop. A minute amount of the allergen will enter the skin and if the patient is sensitive to it there will be a marked skin reaction known as a ‘Wheat and flare ‘ response. Again, the skin prick test is not foolproof as foods to which the patient is intolerant may cause a local reaction, possibly in the gut. IgE antibodies can sometimes be detected in the affected part of the body, but they do not enter the blood stream and so will not affect the skin.

Cytotoxic Testing This involves taking a blood sample from the patient and extracting the white blood cells from it. These are then exposed to the suspected allergen. If the patient is sensitive to the substance in question there should be a reaction in the white blood cells, visible through a microscope. In carefully controlled tests this method has proved around 80% effective. Again not foolproof, but gives a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Elimination Diets The idea behind an elimination diet is to restrict the intake of the suspected allergens for around a three-week period. This will often make the patient feel worse for about the first week, then should be followed by a marked improvement. The foods should then be reintroduced one at a time, and their effect noted. Elimination diets can be very effective. Even if your allergy is to a staple food such as wheat, milk or gluten, due to an increase in demand alternatives to these foods can be found in nearly every supermarket or health food store. With a little forward planning any food can be avoided, where necessary, with the minimum of effort.

Vega Test In this test a weak electrical current is passed into the patient's body through an acupuncture point at the tip of the finger and an electrical reading is taken from the point. A Phial containing the allergen is introduced into the electrical circuit, and when sensitivity occurs the electrical resistance at the acupuncture point will change. The main drawback with this system is that it relies on the skill of the practitioner to a greater extent than any other test. The point must be located accurately and the correct amount of pressure must be maintained throughout the test. Applied Kinesiology This is an approach that involves the measuring of the strength of certain muscles, before and after the presence of the suspected allergen. The theory is that the presence of an allergen will cause a weakness in the energy field of the body. The practitioner will test the resistant strength of a muscle then place the suspected allergen either in the hand or under the tongue and immediately retest the muscle. Any diminution of strength may indicate intolerance to the substance being tested. Whilst this is not exactly a scientific test, it does seem to produce good results for a number of people.

Orthodox Treatments

Allergies are usually treated by a program of desensitisation. Placing a small amount of the substance either sublingually (under the tongue) or intra dermally (under the skin) carries this out. This is sometimes called a provocation-neutralisation technique. The amount of the allergen is carefully measured and increased until the patient responds in their characteristic way with symptoms of the allergy. This is the provocation part. The dose is then given in smaller amounts than the patient will react to, to gradually desensitise them to the allergen, this being the neutralisation part. This technique can work well but it leaves the under lying weakness in the immune system untouched.

Natural Treatments

If allergies are definitely at the root of your child's health problem, the long-term solution may be found in an alternative approach. Homeopaths for example would not require that you scrupulously avoid the allergens. For one thing this may be impossible if the substance is dust mite or pollen. For another the necessary diet avoiding the food allergens may be so restrictive that it is too difficult to follow, or so limited that it may lead to your child not getting a sufficient supply of necessary vitamins and minerals. The Homeopath would take the view that the allergy is just a symptom of a deeper disturbance in the immune system. A healthy person should not react to an innocuous substance as if it were a harmful invader, the approach would therefore be to strengthen the immune system and eradicate the allergy so that life could be lived to the full with out troublesome dietary restrictions. This is entirely possible and many Homeopaths have case histories that can attest to its efficacy in the treatment of allergies.

Athlete's Foot

What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot is a fungal condition of the skin of the feet and toes. It is characterised by red scaly and itchy skin on the feet, affecting mainly the soles and between the toes, but in severe conditions it will also affect the top surface of the foot. There may be formation of small blisters which will burst and then peel.

Causes

The main culprit is a fungus called Epidrmophyton floccosum, although different fungi could be involved. Fungus likes warm, damp dark places to grow, and what more warm damp and dark place could there be than an athlete's trainer! Of course nowadays not only athletes wear trainers. Another reason for it being called athlete's foot is that the original fungus is often picked up from the changing room floors of gymnasiums. Once a fungus has been picked up and takes residence in the skin of your foot it can be mighty hard to shift.

Orthodox Treatment

Usually severe cases may be treated with an anti fungal drug given orally, the most common one being Grisofulvin. Topically you might be prescribed an anti fungal cream such as Miconazole Nitrate in a 2% solution.

Natural Treatment

There are a number of things that you can do to help yourself. Firstly as fungus thrives in damp and dark make sure you do not spend a long time in sweaty socks and trainers. If your feet are prone to being sweaty take an extra pair of socks out with you to change into mid way through the day. When you get home, wash your feet and put on a pair of flip flops.

Calendula talcum powder is good for helping to keep sweaty feet dry, and the Calendula helps to heal the skin.

An old naturopathic tip is to soak your socks in vinegar and dry them, then wear them for two hours every day before washing them and repeating the process.

Barefoot Botanicals S.O.S foot soldier refreshing foot balm should be applied once or twice every day. It contains a blend of botanical ingredients which help to combat fungal infections. One of the ingredients Ajoene, comes from deodorised garlic and is an essential extract to help combat athlete's foot.

Diet

Some people who are particularly prone to fungal infestations may benefit from eating a diet low in sugars and yeasts, including alcohol and bread. A supplement of lactobacillus acidophilus might help. This is the friendly bacteria found in live yogurt and is available in tablet or powder form from most good health food stores.

Homeopathic Treatment

As usual the advice is to see a professional homeopath if the problem is very long standing or severe. You could try whichever of the following remedies sounds most suitable, in a 6c potency once daily for a month. Tablets should be sucked or chewed.

Sulphur is a leading homeopathic skin remedy and it is one of the best for athlete's foot. The skin is usually dry and cracked and very itchy. The itching will get worse when the feet are hot and after a warm bath. The sulphur patient may stick his or her feet out of the bedclothes at night, or get up and put their feet against a cold floor.

Silica is useful where fungal problems occur as a result of having very profuse sweat on their feet. This leads to the perfect conditions for athlete's foot. There may be dry flaky skin and painful cracks between the toes.

Graphites types will have scaly patches on the feet and between the toes which will weep or become moist after scratching. The fungus may travel to the nail bed causing the nails to become thickened and distorted.

Blemished Skin

The sun can be therapeutic for blemished skin but only in moderate doses. Too much will aggravate oil production and can cause burning, which will trap oils underneath the top layer of skin.

Repeated taking of antibiotics can develop acne because of the disruption of the 'good' and 'bad' bacteria in the intestines. If this occurs take a probiotic supplement and minimize sweet foods to help re-establish the beneficial intestinal flora. Prolonged antibiotic use should be avoided wherever possible.

Bowel sluggishness or constipation can cause skin breakouts. Seek herbal or homeopathic help and increase water and fibre intake.

Expert Tips for Blemished Skin

  • Restore balance by gently cleansing your face and neck in circular movements with our Rosa Fina innocence creamy face wash . Rinse off for a really fresh feeling. Don't forget to work outwards to drain toxins!
  • Apply Rosa Fina Masquerade Rejuvenating Masque and relax for 20 minutes as the pink clay and hard-working active botanical extracts detox and nourish your complexion. Wipe off with a hot face towel.
  • Take a breath in and as you exhale, spritz Rosa Fina Divine Aura Facial Spritz onto your skin and blot dry with a tissue to revitalize.
  • Dot Rosa Fina Revelation Intensive Eye Serum along the eye contour (just on the bone)
  • Finish with a light application of Rosa Fina Radiance Anti- Ageing Day Cream to face & neck. Blot any excess-remember oily skin still needs hydrating!

Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin. There are various types of eczema (sometimes referred to as dermatitis) and the skin symptoms are variable. The symptoms are usually characterised by groups of vesicular (blistering) lesions with a variable degree of discharge and scaling.

In some cases dryness and scaling predominate with little inflammation; in more acute cases there may be considerable inflammation and blistering.

The word eczema comes from the Greek to boil over. It commonly itches and in time the itching may produce thickening of the skin (Lichenification), and also as a result of scratching secondary infection may be introduced. Some types of eczema ‘weep' fluid; this type of wet eczema may cause the clothes to adhere to the skin.

Eczema is a distressing condition and it is estimated that one in five people may have some degree of eczema.

What Causes Eczema?

The cause of eczema is not fully understood, but certainly there appears to be a hereditary aspect to it (atopic eczema) with many patients having relatives who also suffer from the disorder. There is also often an allergic component to eczema, and sufferers or their family members may also complain of asthma and hayfever (atopic illness).

Some different types of eczema:

Pompholyx Eczema

This is a type of eczema, also known by the term Dyshydrotic eczema. It is a type of eczema that commonly appears on the hands or feet. It usually begins with small vesicles or blisters forming on the palms and the side of the fingers. These may itch and when scratched they may flake and peel, leaving a raw surface. More severe Pompholyx may form fissures or cracks. With eczema on hands a risk is secondary infection with staphylococcal bacteria. The cause may be contact with chemicals to which the patient is sensitive. It also may appear more frequently in people who sweat profusely on their hands or feet. If Pompholyx appears on the feet it usually has the same blister formation with cracks and scaling but frequently may be complicated by fungal infections.

Stasis Eczema

This a complaint which may also be known as Varicose eczema or Gravitational Eczema. It affects the lower legs when there is a disorder of the circulation, often caused by valvular damage due to varicose veins. As a result of the damage to the valves, pressure develops in the legs and fluid collects in the tissues. This fluid causes swelling in the lower legs which may be worse in the hot weather or after standing for a long period of time. The skin becomes affected with eczema and is sore, scaly and itchy. Sufferers of varicose eczema are at increased risk of skin ulceration which may often be caused by minor injuries.

Discoid Eczema

This is a type of eczema characterised by its appearance and is also known as Numular eczema, which comes from the Latin word for ‘coin shaped'. The lesions, as the name suggests are round or disc shaped.

This type of Eczema does not appear to run in families and most often appears on the lower limbs. There may be only one or two patches, but occasionally the condition may be more widespread. The surface is usually sore and itchy and like other types of eczema may weep and become moist.

Conventional Treatment for Eczema

The most frequently prescribed medications for treatment of eczema are hydrocortisone preparations, also known as topical steroids. Betnovate and Eumovate are two common hydro-cortisone creams. They do work well in the short term, causing a marked decrease in skin inflammation and itching, but increasingly patients are not happy with their side effects. Steroids do not offer a long term cure for eczema and when they are discontinued there may be a severe rebound reaction with the skin becoming markedly worse.

Unwanted side effects may include:

  • Thinning of the skin as little as ten days of using steroid creams on the skin may result in damage to the underlying structure of the skin; prolonged use makes the skin fragile and more prone to damage from scratching.
  • Bruising this may be an effect of long term steroid use as prolonged use also causes fragility in the walls of the blood vessels leading to easy bleeding under the skin and bruising.
  • De-pigmentation This is a fairly common effect. People who have used steroids heavily may find that their skin becomes paler and loses its pigment over the affected areas. There may further more be systemic effects as a large proportion of what you put on your skin is absorbed in to the blood stream.

Other orthodox medications may include immune modifiers such as Tacrolimus (Protopic).

Over the counter treatments for eczema include moisturisers and emollients, often prescribed to ease the dryness. These are most often petrochemical in origin, such as E45, Balneum and Oilatum and may also be prescribed as bath oils.

Natural Treatments for Eczema

Many people are not happy with the side effects or the success rate of orthodox medications and are increasingly turning to Herbal remedies for eczema or Homeopathic help. Fed up with the damage that steroids can do they are looking for a natural alternative to steroid creams.

Here are some tips that may help you to control your eczema naturally.

Diet

I encourage my patients to eat a whole food diet wherever possible, eating plenty of salads, fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, beans and seeds and nuts. If possible they should eat less dairy, sugar and fried food. Spices may also aggravate as they are heating to the blood. They should be encouraged to drink at least two litres of water daily.

Supplements

The main one is a good supply of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (Essential Fatty Acids). It has been shown that people with eczema have lower than average levels of these substances which moisturise the skin from within and help to calm down inflammation by releasing prostaglandins. Everybody should be taking these. I recommend Hemp seed oil, one tablespoonful a day.

Naturopathy

The Naturopathic approach is based mainly on diet, environment and hydrotherapy in the form of compresses. The main dietary advice is usually the exclusion of dairy products. This seems to work well for many children, and particularly in the type of eczema which gets weepy; it might be worth a try for a few months to see if there is any improvement. On a dairy free diet it is usually only cows' products that the child might be sensitive to so goat and sheep's cheeses, milks and yoghurt can be substituted as well as soy products. The diet should also be rich in B vitamins and essential fatty acids which are found in sunflower seeds, hemp, flax, safflower, linseed, evening primrose and fish oils. As children are often picky eaters, I would suggest a supplement of hemp or flax seed should be given. Usually 15mls a day of pure oil or 6 x 1000mg capsules.

The environmental allergies are harder to deal with but naturopaths believe that keeping the child's environment as free from dust mites and their droppings as possible can have a beneficial effect. Dust mites are one of the commonest allergens in asthma and eczema; they also cause a form of hay fever called perennial rhinitis, where the sufferer feels like they have a permanent cold. Dust mites live in even the cleanest of homes. They are microscopic creatures, which live by eating human skin. We each shed millions of fragments of skin daily in the form of skin cells, which feed these mites, and the allergy is often to the dung pellets that they produce. They cannot be eliminated completely but there are some practical steps that you can take to minimise the problem:

Wet dusting at least twice a week and frequent hoovering may help; if the problem is severe a special vacuum with a special fine filtration system will help. The dung particles are too small to be trapped by a conventional Hoover but clinical tests and trials have shown that these special vacuum cleaners are remarkably effective in reducing dust mites and their droppings. In the bedroom there are a few things that can help. Don't make the bed in the morning, but leave it turned down during the day to air. Change the sheets and pillow cases frequently, and every time you change the bed you should turn and air the mattress. Special protective covers for the mattress are available, through which the dust mites cannot pass. If you want to find out whether your child is allergic to dust mites before you embark on any expensive purchases, you can ask your doctor for an allergy test.

Hydrotherapy is one of the corner stones of naturopathic medicine. Many people do not bathe their children very often, thinking that a bath will dry their skin out more; this is rarely the case and unless bathing is very painful for your child it should be done on a daily basis. Daily baths can also lessen the risk of secondary infections in the skin. The bath should be pleasantly warm but not hot and no soaps or detergents should be used .

You can add S.O.S lifeguard moisturising bath oil to the bath water which is very soothing and comforting. It milks up in the water, calms the skin and leaves it soft and hydrated. For showering or when soap is needed, S.O.S soothing face wash provides a non-foaming gentle cleansing agent that will help to relieve itching.

Oatmeal makes a very soothing bath, which helps to soften the skin. Put one cupful of oatmeal into a piece of muslin and tie a knot in it (a quicker and easier way is to use the foot of an old pair of tights or an old pop sock, put the oatmeal in and knot it at the top). Leave the bag of oatmeal under the running tap and once the bath is ready you can use it as a wash bag instead of soap. After bathing apply copious amounts of S.O.S rescue me face & body cream to help hydrate the skin or the S.O.S lifeguard moisturising bath oil can be applied directly to the skin. This is very important as, after a bath, the skin will absorb the creams better than at any other time. The best cream to use is S.O.S rescue me face & body cream, because it contains so many therapeutic ingredients. In cases of very severe dry eczema, naturopaths often recommend wet wrapping. This consists of putting a thick layer of ointment onto the skin, then wrapping the skin in wet gauze bandages. This should be followed by a dry bandage such as a light tubigrip which should all be left in place overnight. For quicker and easier wet wrapping, small areas can be bound lightly with cling film after the cream has been applied.

Herbs

Herbs can be of enormous help in the treatment of eczema. They can be taken in the form of teas, or added to the bath in the form of infusions or applied to the skin via a compress. For the internal treatment of eczema, herbs such as Burdock Root, Figwort, Fumitory, Oregon Grape, Nettle and Red Clover are very useful.

You could start with two herbs, Red Clover and Oregon Grape. Take one tea spoon of each in a little water or fruit juice daily. For children under 7 years, consult a herbal practitioner first. Infusions of Chickweed, Marigold and Burdock can be added daily to the bath water, and an infusion of Marigold is very useful when used to soak a compress and applied to sore inflamed areas.

Aromatherapy

There are oils which can be very beneficial to irritated skin, including Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Geranium. A few drops of each can be added to a carrier oil (oil of Evening Primrose is particularly good for eczema) and applied after the bath or before bed at night. The oils of Frankincense and Rose are also good in the treatment of eczema but are not recommended for use on children under five. All our S.O.S products contain a perfect blend of essential oils for sensitive skin.

Homeopathic Remedies

Choose the most suitable remedy and give it daily for a few weeks in 6c potency. If the skin is improving it can be continued for a month; if there is no improvement in a few weeks it may be advisable to try a different remedy. If the skin seems aggravated after taking a remedy, discontinue it and wait a few days to see if an improvement follows the aggravation; if it does, wait and repeat the remedy when the improvement has stopped progressing. Remember that eczema can be a difficult condition to treat and if you are not getting the desired results it might be better to consult a qualified Homeopath.

Indications for some commonly used homeopathic remedies for eczema:

 

  • Arsenicum Album The skin conditions of Arsenicum are very dry. Sometimes the skin may look as though it has been burned. The child will scratch the skin until it bleeds which may give short relief. Generally the child may be slightly chilly, liking to wrap up warm. They may also be very particular, not liking to get their hands dirty and they may be prone to worrying, particularly about matters relating to their health or the health of others.
  • Graphites The type of eczema which responds to Graphites is usually moist; it weeps easily and the clothes can sometimes get stuck to the skin; the skin may weep spontaneously or only on scratching. The eruptions are most likely to be in the folds of the skin behind the knees and elbows but may also appear on the face or behind the ears
  • Petroleum The chief indication for petroleum is eczema with deep cracks in the skin. The eczema can be anywhere on the body but often favours the hands which may have deep fissures that open and bleed. The eczema is worse for wearing wool next to the skin and is also noticeably worse during the cold winter months. It may occasionally be worse in the summer months if the patient lives near an airport and is exposed to aviation fuel in the atmosphere.
  • Sulphur Sulphur is a great and traditional skin remedy, but it is also the one most likely to cause an aggravation of the condition before improvement sets in. Having said that, it can yield marvellous results in the right cases. The Eczema is likely to be very red and very dry. It is usually markedly worse at night from the heat of the bed and is very aggravated by bathing. Children needing Sulphur usually hate baths anyway. They are hot blooded, never seeming to feel the cold and often wanting to go out without a coat even in the winter. They may have a sweet tooth and may also have hot sweaty feet, which they like to uncover at night.

Acupressure

Large Intestine 4

This point can be located in the centre of the triangle formed by the bones of the fingers and the thumb. Support the palm of the hand with the fingers and apply pressure with the thumb.

Nappy Rash

What is Nappy Rash?

Nappy Rash is a fairly common problem for babies, but is one that can be easily treated and also avoided. It can be caused by a baby being left for too long in a dirty nappy. If your baby has sensitive skin that can happen quite quickly. The bacteria from stools breaks down the urine and ammonia is released, leading to irritation of the skin. It usually begins with a blotchy rash on the genital area, which spreads to the buttocks. The skin may look red and shiny, almost as if it has been burned. In more severe cases blisters can form causing a great deal of discomfort. Nappy rash can sometimes be complicated by a secondary infection such as thrush or even impetigo. If thrush is present the baby may also have a sore mouth with white patches on the inside of the cheeks. If impetigo is present there will usually be crust formation and a tendency for the eruption to spread beyond the nappy area. If nappy rash is particularly severe or resistant to treatment with the methods outlined below see your own therapist for further advice.

Natural Treatments

Naturopathy

The Naturopathic approach would be first to change the nappy more frequently, and then to wash the nappy area thoroughly during each change with cool boiled water. An ‘air bath' is usually recommended and this just means allowing the baby to kick without a nappy on for as long as possible. Another Naturopathic tip is to apply egg white to the nappy area then dry it using a hairdryer, this should be repeated three times so that a layer of albumin is built up, this will form a barrier and protect the skin between nappy changes. The use of egg white used to be a standard hospital treatment for bedsores.

Topical Help

Barefoot Botanicals' S.O.S rescue me face & body cream can help soothe nappy rash and speed up the healing of the skin. Its blend of natural ingredients works on soothing the redness and inflammation and helps to prevent secondary infection. It will ease the discomfort and help to calm the child who may be fretful due to pain.

Homeopathic Remedies

There are a few helpful remedies. The remedy that you select should be given in 6c potency three times a day until improvement is seen. The tablets can be crushed between two clean teaspoons.

Sulphur
The child needing Sulphur may be prone to a dry skin in general. The nappy rash may be hot red and dry and may extend beyond the nappy area. The Sulphur child generally does not like being bathed.

Graphites
This remedy is useful if the eruption is moist or weepy. It is particularly recommended if there is rawness between the cheeks of the bottom. Petroleum The eruption may be more concentrated on the genital area and not be so severe on the buttocks themselves, the skin may look as if it will crack and there may be small blisters present.

Rhus Tox
The cheeks of the bottom may be red and raw, possibly blistered, the baby will not like the nappy being removed, but will be soothed by warm bathing and the application of creams.

Oily Skin

Medium to large pores, shiny appearance, tendency for blackheads and blemishes.

Raw and steamed fruits and vegetables have a cleansing, non congesting effect on oily skin. Animal fats and dairy products can aggravate an oily skin condition. Take lecithin as a supplement which can help to emulsify excessive oils in the body helping to prevent skin congestion and clogged pores.

Too little sleep and chronic fatigue can aggravate an oily skin condition.

Stress can stimulate oil production.

Cleanse once or twice a day.

Do not use soap as it is too drying and irritating which can stimulate oil production. Soap residue does not rinse well from the skin and can cause blocked pores and blemishes.

Avoid too frequent face massage which can stimulate oil production.

Avoid products that contain excessive alcohol (Barefoot products contain a minimum of organic alcohol). Alcohol aggravates oily skin and dries it out. Prolonged use of alcohol-based products causes dehydration, pore enlargement and a leathery texture.

Therapists Tips: Always remove make-up at night, even when tired! Choose only oil-free formulations for foundations and avoid massage oil on your face.

Psoriasis

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a type of non contagious, immune mediated, chronic skin disease in which itchy, red, scaly patches form on the elbows, forearms, knees legs or scalp. Psoriasis of the scalp is present in 40% of sufferers. Plaque Psoriasis is the most common type and is characterised by patches of inflamed skin which become covered in silvery white scales.

The underlying cause of psoriasis is uncontrolled cell growth. Normally keratinocytes (a type of skin cell) have a life cycle of 28 days. Fourteen of those days are required for the keratinocyte to fully develop and move from the lowest layers of the skin to the outermost layer. During the remaining fourteen days the keratinocyte dies and is sloughed off. During Psoriasis Keratinocytes have a significantly accelerated life cycle, moving to the surface in only four days. This causes a pile up of skin cells and the typical psoriasis lesions.

What causes Psoriasis?

Usually there is an inherited tendency to this disease but it may also be triggered by stress. It can occur on the site of a skin trauma (Koebners phenomenon) or after infection (Guttate psoriasis) and it may flare after use of certain drugs, most noticeably anti-malarial drugs.

For some psoriasis patients, the symptoms may not be confined to the skin. Around 25% of people affected will go on to develop Psoriatic arthritis. This causes swelling and stiffness of the joints of which the most common sites are the fingers and the toes.

Orthodox Treatment

Treatment for psoriasis varies with the severity of the condition. Milder cases may be treated with ultra violet light or coal tar applications. In more severe cases Calcipotriol, a derivative of vitamin D, may be prescribed for topical application. However, this must be used with care in patients with large affected areas as it can interfere with the body's calcium metabolism.

In persistent cases, and especially where the joints are affected, Methotrexate may be prescribed. Methotrexate is an immune suppressant and it has an effect on the skin's metabolic rate, but it has many side effects and blood must be monitored carefully throughout use to ensure there is no liver damage.

Naturopathic Tips

Essential Fatty Acids are essential during the treatment of psoriasis; a therapeutic dose of about 6g is needed to see an improvement. But they do work really well and may have a protective effect on the joints which can become inflamed in certain types of psoriasis. I usually recommend organic hemp seed oil (about 1 tablespoon per day), or flax seed capsules (at least 6 x 1000 gram capsules)

Herbs

Herbs really can calm the skin down and give great relief. If a patient takes the herbs and the fatty acids and eats a good diet you should see a 25% improvement before you even start on homeopathic remedies.

Hilery always gives Milk Thistle in the mix for psoriasis as the health of the liver is very important in the clearing of psoriasis. Get a large bottle and put in herbal tinctures as follows: 25% Milk Thistle, 25% Oregon grape 25% Red Clover and 25% Burdock. Take one tablespoon per day. Consult a qualified herbalist before giving this to a child.

Homeopathic Remedies

There are as many possibilities as there are remedies! Here are the ones that Hilery most often sees in her practice. To obtain best results however, we recommend seeing a professional homeopath who can treat the psoriasis in the context of the whole person.

Firstly many of the remedies we mentioned in eczema may be useful in psoriasis.

* Arsenicum

In a patient who needs this remedy the psoriasis patches are usually small and widespread with a lot of easy bleeding. The eruptions may burn and feel better for a warm application. The typical Arsenicum patient will be chilly and likes neatness and order.

* Sulphur

What marks sulphur out may be the itching of the eruption which is unusual. There is aggravation from bathing which may make the skin crack. Scalp is often badly affected. The sulphur patient tends to be very hot blooded and may be untidy.

* Graphites

In psoriasis there will be moisture if graphites is needed; the patches may ooze a thick gluey exudate. The psoriasis may originate in old scar tissue and very often the nails will be very badly affected with pitting and flaking.

* Petroleum

The skin will be very dry and prone to deep cracking. The skin will be markedly worse in the winter and will improve massively in the summer.

* Sepia

This is a good remedy for psoriasis. The eruptions are usually on the extensor surfaces of the body, i.e. knees and elbows and may have a lot of white scales on the patches. The patches look raised and have a clearly defined red edge with scaling in the surface. It will often appear at times of stress or hormonal change.

* Lycopodium

The typical Lycopodium patient may have Psoriasis on the knees and elbows, and maybe the scalp. The joints may be affected, especially the small joints of the fingers and toes. The typical Lycopodium patient may be lacking in self confidance. They may have a sweet tooth and be prone to bloating of the abdomen.

Rosacea

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea (or Acne Rosacea) is a chronic skin disease of the face in which the blood vessels enlarge, giving the cheeks and nose a flushed appearance. It is not really a form of acne, but a vascular condition of the skin which may also be accompanied by papules and pimples. The eruption usually affects the face in a butterfly distribution over the cheeks with a connecting strip on the nose. Groups of capillaries in this area become dilated causing the characteristic redness or rosy appearance of the face. In severe cases there may be nodular swelling of the nose, known medically as Rhinophyma. In approximately 50% of cases there may be dryness and irritation of the margins of the eyes known as Blepharitis

What causes acne Rosacea?

There is no known cause for this condition, but rosacea appears to occur most often in fair-skinned people of northern and eastern European descent, particularly Celtic, English, and Scottish. It often affects multiple members of the same family, presumably because of their similar complexions and genetic heritage. More women than men are affected, and most people will develop the condition between 30 and 50 years of age. Recent medical evidence suggest a connection with Helicobacter Pylorii, the bacteria known to be responsible for stomach ulcers, so a visit to the GP to have this checked may be helpful.

Natural treatment of acne rosacea

Because of the vascular nature of acne rosacea, food and drink which may dilate the vessels are known to aggravate. Hot drinks should be avoided, especially tea and coffee. Alcohol may also aggravate and should be avoided, as should spicy foods. The skin may be worse in response to stressful situations. Skin care products which contain alcohol should be avoided, and only gentle natural ingredients should be used. Products containing Witch Hazel may be helpful as this can gently astringe the blood vessels, and also especially Rosa Mosqueta oil (a major ingredient in our Rosa Fina range).

Vitamins A, C and B may be helpful in this condition (also included in our Rosa Fina range).

Seeing an experienced Homeopath or Herbalist may be very helpful, especially if there are any digestive complications or any associated eye condition.

Homeopathic treatment for acne rosacea

These remedies may help. Choose the one which seems to fit your symptoms most closely and take it for a month in a 6c potency. If improvement is seen continue for one more month, if not, try a different remedy. All remedies should be sucked or chewed and not swallowed whole.

* Lachesis

This remedy may be associated with skin conditions that are worse during the menopause, especially when there are a lot of hot flushes. There will be many small spots and the skin may sometimes take on a purplish hue. The nose may be significantly affected. Traditionally Lachesis patients like to talk a lot and dislike close fitting clothes around their neck.

* Causticum

This patient will have many pimples on the cheeks and nose which may occasionally itch. There may be associated digestive symptoms. The causticum patient is traditionally quite serious in nature, with a strong sympathectic streak which may make them involved in many good causes.

* Sepia

This patient will often have the typical saddle distribution over the face and cheeks. The skin may appear very sallow with darkish circles under the eyes. They may be on the chilly side. A typical Sepia patient may have a low energy, and feel tired out from taking on too much and looking after other people.

* Belladonna

This remedy may be useful where the redness of the face is very marked. There may be a high colour on the whole face, giving the appearance of too much sun. The skin will be hot to touch and the pimples will also be very red.

Urticaria

What is Urticaria?

Urticaria is also known as 'hives' or ‘nettle rash'. Urticaria is caused by an allergic reaction, and is characterised by red, raised bumps known as weals. These bumps are tremendously itchy and may last from a few hours to a few days. Each eruption consists of a white, raised patch of skin surrounded by reddish blotchy area. The spots may be small or large, and may occur all over the body or be confined to one area. Some people have urticaria as a more or less permanent condition, others will have an outbreak on coming into contact with an allegen, known or unknown.

What causes Urticaria?

The cause is unknown, but most cases are associated with allergy and so there may be an inherited tendency in the family to suffer from other allergies such as hay fever. A person who has an allergy will release histamine into their body when they come into contact with the allergen, and it is this release of histamine that is responsible for the symptoms of urticaria.

Orthodox treatment

This usually consists of anti-histamines, some of which, such as Piriton, can be bought over the counter. Stronger ones may have to be prescribed. If the allergic reaction is very severe occasionally steroids may be prescribed.

Natural Treatments

Allergy tests may help to identify the allergen so that it can be avoided. Many people are allergic to food containing salycilates, but there may be many other culprits.

S.O.S lifeguard moisturising bath oil can soothe. Put a capful under the running bath tap.

Barefoot S.O.S rescue me face & body cream can help to calm the irritation.

Homeopathic treatment

Apis Mellifica

This is probably the most useful remedy for urticaria. The skin may be lumpy, hot and considerably swollen. It may feel stinging or burning and there will usually be great relief by applying a cold compress to the affected area. Heat will usually aggravate as will exercise. The urticaria may be extensive even spreading to the lips and mouth.

Rhus Tox

The eruption may be quite large in size and it will be very itchy. It may tend to be worse after exposure to damp cold weather but the itching will feel better for running it under very hot water or having a very hot shower.

Arsenicum album

This patient will have burning eruptions but they will generally feel very chilly. They also may feel very anxious. The eruptions will feel better for a warm application even though they have a burning sensation.

Urtica Urens

This patient requiring this remedy will have intense itching with a desire to scratch the skin. They may be aggravated by heat.