Have you got dry skin that seems to need a ton of moisturizer to stop it from cracking and flaking? There can be a few factors involved in causing dry skin but sometimes, it can be linked to autoimmune disease.
In this article we go over how to know if your skin could be one of the signs of an autoimmune condition and what to do about it.
Psoriasis is one example of an autoimmune condition that mostly affects the skin (although it can sometimes affect the joints too). Dry skin can also be a symptom of other autoimmune conditions.
Psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells, which turn over a lot faster than they normally would. These new skin cells build up more quickly than your body can shed them and that results in raised areas of dry, red and itchy skin. This can happen anywhere on the body. Some people with psoriasis will go on to develop a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.
Other symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding
- Itching and burning feelings on affected areas
- Thick, pitted nails
There has been some debate as to whether eczema is an autoimmune condition but research has started to suggest that it is. Like psoriasis, it’s an exaggerated inflammatory response that triggers symptoms. This inflammation results in red, dry, itchy and scaly skin.
Eczema symptoms can be reduced a lot through medications that target the immune proteins that target healthy tissues and set the scene for the autoimmune reaction. Eczema can occur anywhere on your body but it’s common for it to affect the elbows, backs of the knees and hands.
Symptoms of eczema include:
- Skin that is dry, red, itchy, sore and prone to cracking
- Very itchy skin that may also burn
- Oozing and crustiness that can often occur if you scratch affected areas
Patches of thick, hard and dry skin can be a symptom of scleroderma, which develops due to hardening of the body’s connective tissues. An autoimmune response means that collagen is produced to the same extent that it would if there was an injury to the skin.
Depending on how severe the condition is, it can potentially be pretty serious and sometimes even life threatening. This is because it can go far deeper than just the localized type that affects the skin. The systemic sclerosis type of scleroderma can also affect the blood vessels, muscles and vital organs.
Other Autoimmune Conditions That Can Affect the Skin
Some other autoimmune conditions can cause dry skin, although this is rarely their only symptom. Some of these include:
Thyroid problems can cause dry skin, especially hypothyroidism. 90% of hypothyroidism is actually due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition.
Type 1 diabetes is another autoimmune condition that can affect the skin. It can cause dry and itchy skin that is also prone to infections, especially on your feet. Other symptoms include being thirsty a lot, needing to go to the bathroom frequently and feeling tired.
Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry skin. It also tends to make your eyes and mouth dry and affects the joints, muscles and salivary glands. You can be more likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome if you already have an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Natural Relief for Dry Skin
If autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are the reason for your dry skin, you’ll often be given medications and topical creams to tackle the inflammation and make symptoms less severe. These can have side effects and you may wonder if you can get some natural relief for symptoms instead. The answer is definitely “yes!” and here are a few options that you can try out:
- Olive oil can be used as a natural facial cleanser and also helps to nourish dry skin.
- Sunflower seed oil (organic) has also been tested in studies and was shown to be a great option for moisturizing dry skin on the body.
- If you want to get the effects of using petroleum jelly in a more natural form, studies say that coconut oil works in much the same way. This is because the fatty acids give it emollient properties.
- An avocado face mask can soothe dry skin on your face. It’s simple to whip up too. Just mash up half an avocado and mix with a teaspoon of olive oil.
- For dry skin that affects the rest of your body, try adding oatmeal to a warm (but not hot!) bath. It can help to soothe the discomfort of dry skin and is also moisturizing. Oatmeal can also be used as a face mask too. To use it in your bath, whizz up some oatmeal in a blender or food processor and mix it into warm water.
- Applying honey to your skin helps to soothe and hydrate it. Adding a teaspoon of honey can also work for very dry skin. Leave it on your skin for up to 20 minutes and wash off with warm water. Don’t use very hot water to wash it off as this can dry the skin out even more. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which can be great for autoimmune skin conditions such as psoriasis.
How Can Dr. Autoimmune Help?
It can be frustrating trying to find help with chronic and complex conditions, which is why we have chosen to dedicate our practice to exactly that. Instead of treating the symptoms, our functional medicine approach focuses on finding the causes.
Discovering the root cause of any skin condition is the only way to truly recover. And the best place to start is with a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune.
Our specialty is autoimmunity and our clinic is 100% remote! So whether you know or suspect that you have an autoimmune condition, we can help you achieve your wellness goals from anywhere in the world.
Start your journey with us and request your patient exam by clicking here.
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