Spotlight Series: The Importance of Diet and Nutrition when treating Dermatological Skin Conditions with Perth Health Collective

Spotlight Series: The Importance of Diet and Nutrition when treating Dermatological Skin Conditions with Perth Health Collective

If you suffer from eczema or other dermatological skin conditions, you will do and try just about anything to stop the irritation and itching it can cause. Many people will reach for steroids, creams, washes and just about anything that can get their hands on. But not many people think that simply changing their diet could reduce symptoms and start the healing process of dermatological skin conditions. 

We spoke to Holly and Sarah at Perth Health Collective to get a better understanding of the importance of diet and nutrition when treating dermatological skin conditions and how they identify triggers and deficiencies in a patients diet.

What role does nutrition play in the development and management of dermatological skin conditions, and how does it intersect with other factors such as genetics and environmental influences?

Deficiencies such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K as well as essential fatty acids, zinc and selenium have all been associated with an increased risk of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Deficiencies in protein and amino acids can impair collagen synthesis, impair wound healing and increase inflammation in the skin.

Genetics may play a role in the development of skin conditions such as a family history of autoimmune conditions (psoriasis, coeliac disease) or certain genes that may impair nutrition such as MTHFR. The environment also can play a significant role such as in the presence of environmental allergens, topical irritants, high dust environments, mould and chemical exposures.

Can you discuss some common dietary triggers for skin conditions like eczema, or psoriasis, and how you work with patients to identify and eliminate them from their diet?

It's important to understand that the skin requires adequate nutrition to heal and be healthy. Restrictive diets should only be prescribed when absolutely necessary. Food triggers to consider with skin conditions include:

Food allergies - wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish are common allergens that may exacerbate the skin if not appropriately eliminated.

Gluten - should be strictly eliminated in coeliac disease but may also be necessary in chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema due to the impact on the gut lining (i.e. leaky gut).

Food intolerances - Salicylates and histamines may be playing a role, however, the underlying reason for these food intolerances (eg. hut health) also needs to be addressed.

How do you assess an individual's nutritional status and identify deficiencies when they present with dermatological skin concerns and is there any testing that is undertaken in clinic to identify these?

Blood pathology & functional testing, physical examination (i.e. nails, presence of dark circles under eyes) and a thorough analysis of diet and lifestyle (including sleep and stress).

What specific dietary assessments or tools do you use in your practice?

We undertake a thorough diet analysis in our case taking and utilise diet analysis software where necessary.

Are there any specific nutrients or dietary patterns that you commonly recommend to support skin health and address dermatological conditions, and how do they contribute to overall skin wellness?

Every client is different and it’s important to note that there is no one diet that works for everyone. Thorough case analysis helps to determine the triggers that may be unique to our client and nutrients that may be lacking in someone’s diet. We also ensure that we work not only within the clients budget but also what is accessible and sustainable to them.

Nutrients that we focus on include protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B, C, D, E, magnesium, zinc and collagen. We remove trigger foods/allergies, where necessary but we always encourage diversity and inclusion over exclusion/restriction.

In cases where food sensitivities or intolerances are contributors to skin issues, how do you guide patients through an elimination diet or food reintroduction protocol, and what outcomes have you observed?

Food sensitivities and intolerances are often temporary and can be resolved with the right treatment plan. Removal of these foods can definitely assist with symptomatic relief but the underlying issues need to be resolved so that the client can bring these foods back in. Food sensitivities and intolerances are often related to gut health so we always address the gut when working with clients who experience skin issues.

How do you address concerns about nutritional deficiencies that may impact skin health in your dietary recommendations for patients?

Nutritional deficiencies will likely require a period of supplementation paired with dietary support and counselling to ensure adequate dietary intake going forward. It's important to explain why these nutrients are integral to skin health so the client understands why we are focusing on them.

Can you discuss the connection between gut health and skin health, and how you integrate principles of gut-nourishing nutrition into your treatment plans for dermatological issues?

Gut health plays a huge role in skin conditions, and it is always a first line treatment for all of our skin clients. If there are problems with digestion, an imbalanced microbiome, parasites or increased intestinal permeability (‘leaky gut’) then we need to address this before the skin will start to heal long term.

Poor gut health and digestion will affect the metabolism and absorption of nutrients, and parasites and bacterial imbalances can produce inflammatory compounds that will flare eczema and skin concerns.

If a client is constipated, the body will try and find other avenues for elimination - most often the skin. Optimal digestion is the number one factor we work on when addressing skin concerns in clinic.

What strategies do you employ to help patients navigate social and cultural factors that may influence their dietary choices and adherence to nutrition recommendations for improving skin conditions, especially in cases where dietary changes may be challenging?

We aim to work within what is realistic and achievable for each individual client. If there is a barrier to incorporating certain things, we find an alternative that works. It is part of our job to make sure that what we are recommending fits within each client’s capabilities, budget and beliefs.

If you are interested in learning more ways to treat your Eczema through diet and nutrition, follow Perth Health Collective on their instagram @perthhealthcollective or visit their website.


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