Detoxification Skin Problems: A Case Study

We discussed in the detox section that detoxification, skin problems are often created from problems with detox systems. The case below illustrates this point perfectly. Detoxification encompasses many interrelated aspects of the body.  Some of what we know about detoxification involves very elaborate biochemical processes. Other aspects are more intuitive and simple. In all aspects of detoxification the basic process is to eliminate the unwanted substance from the body.  Sweating and bowel movements are two simple examples of this.

We can easily see that of there is a blockage in the bowel or the sweat glands then other aspects of the detox system have to pick up the slack. reduced bowel function or constipation is one simple reason some people have detoxification skin problems. However it is often times not that simple.


Detoxification Skin Problems From Decreased Function

As we discussed in the detoxification lesson there are 5 ways the body eliminates toxins. Any one of these can be compromised. For instance the bowel function can slow down from medication consumption, changes in diet, dehydration, etc. When this happens the toxins will build up in the body unless the other areas can increase their elimination.  Not all toxins can go through all pathways however.  For a toxin to exit out of the lungs they have to aromatic (able to ).  For a toxin to be eliminated through the urine to has to be water soluble. Most toxins are eliminated through the digestive tract with your bowel movements but this is highly dependent on adequate liver function and bile production. (see detoxification systems for more details). The skin is a back up to the digestive tract because there is a lot of overlap in which toxins can be eliminated.She had detoxification skin problems

In the skin there is an excretory function present in sweat glands where toxins accumulate and are excreted when we sweat. The excretion of toxins through the skin can sometimes manifest as a rash or acne as we will see with the case below.


Detoxification Skin Problems From Increased Exposure

When the body is encountering complex molecules from the environment it uses the same methods noted above to get rid of molecules. However, before these toxins can exit the body, they first are transformed in the liver into something more stable and less likely to cause damage.  There are several ways the liver transforms the toxins.  Just like there are specific ways to eliminate the toxins there are specific ways to transform them as well. If one of these transformation process are compromised it could lead to detoxification skin problems as well.

These transformation process have limited capacity to change the toxic molecules into non-toxic molecules.  As a result, a sudden or gradual (in some cases) increase in toxin burden would lead to increase circulating level of that toxin. This might happen from mold exposure or chemical exposure like formaldehyde from new carpet for instance.  So you can see that detoxification skin problem can occur for lots of different reasons but all are related to the overall process how the body transforms and eliminates toxins. Lets look at a case where this came into play.


An Example of Detoxification Skin Problems

“In July of 2015, I started having these intense itching outbreaks all over my body. Sometimes they would start on the bottom of feet and work their way up. Other times it would be my face. The itching would start around my lips and cheeks, and then work it’s way around. Then there were days when the itching would just be patches all over my body in various areas. It started off rather mild, an inconvenience and annoyance more than anything… but after about two weeks, it started to get intense. The itching would wake me up at night and sometimes bring me to tears because if I scratched it, it would burn and just itch deeper. I felt like the itch was deep- like it was seeping deeper and deeper into my body. I would lay there with ice packs all over trying to calm it, applied Aveeno lotions and creams to no avail, and finally gave up on fighting it myself and went to my dermatologist. I was diagnosed with eczema and prescribed a steroidal topical cream called “Triamcinolone”. I was also instructed to stop using anything with a fragrance, fabric softener, and to “try to avoid sweating”. Seriously- try to avoid sweating? Beyond the fact that such advice seems ridiculous, I teach dance for a living, so sweating is inevitable for me.”

“After 3 days of applying the cream twice daily, I broke out in the worst rash of my life (See picture above). Other than a few pimples during puberty, I have been lucky in the area of skin condition for almost my entire life. This rash literally took over my entire body. It started with a few blistery pimples on my chest, and it just went everywhere. The areas of highest concentration were my face and chest. These pimples were painful, swollen, and very red. Beyond that, the rash was embarrassing. It was at this point that I decided I did not just want to treat the symptoms of eczema, I wanted to get to the root of the problem and solve it. That’s when I contacted Dr. Terranella and Southwest Integrative Medicine.”

When I looked at this case there are a few things that come to mind. The first thing we should try to identify is what is the cause of the eczema the second is what caused the skin rash. There are a few things that come to mind as potential causes of the Eczema, digestive system problems, problems with the gut microbiome, and hypothyroid. Because of the rash, I was concerned about the way the body was eliminating chemicals from the body, specifically the Triamcinolone. Some people have genetic problems that given them trouble breaking down steroids and hormones. Since the rash was new, it seemed very likely that it was caused by the Triamcinolone and would probably go away once this was stopped.  However sometimes this type of rash can linger for a long time after the exposure. These are the thoughts that went into my recommendation to both eliminate any foods that could be causing the Excema and provide some supplementation to enhance the detoxification processes.

Here was the result

“Dr. T. put me on a 21-day detox, and by day 3, any itching had completely stopped. By day 7, the rash was completely gone. I have just completed the 21 days and my follow up with Dr. Terranella, and I can honestly say that I am so glad that I chose to go this route. My skin may even look better now than it did before the rash outbreak (see picture above for after detox).  As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine”!

Thank you to Dr. Terranella!”

– Heidi Wilkes, Age 30