Inflammatory Skin Disorders

Inflammatory skin disorders can cause a person an untold amount of pain, mental stress and frustration. Diagnosis and cause can sometimes by a long and tedious process. Below I describe a number of conditions and possible triggers.


Appears as patches of skin on the legs, knees, arms, elbows, scalp, ears and back that are red to brown in colour and covered with silvery white scales. Toes and nails can lose their lustre and develop ridges and pils.

Often hereditary, this condition is linked to a rapid growth of cells in the skins outer layer. These growths on the epidermis never mature. Whereas a normal skin cell matures and passes from the bottom layer of the skin to the epidermis in about 28 days, psoriatic cells form in 8 days, causing scaly patches, which can spread to cover large areas.

You may have periods of flare ups followed by remission, most commonly beginning between the ages of 15-25. Attacks may be triggered by stress, illness, injury, surgery, virus or bacterial infection, sunburn, alcohol and drug abuse, or the use of NSAID’s and some forms of hypertension medication.

In some cases people also suffer with a form of psoriatic arthritis similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis which can be to treat.

Underlying cause is still unknown, but it may result from a faulty utilisation of fat or a build of toxins in an unhealthy colon.

Urticaria (Hives)

Also known as hives, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin that appear suddenly  Hives usually cause itching, but may also burn or sting.

Psychological stress is often reported as a triggering factor in people with chronic hives. Stress may play an important role by decreasing the effectiveness of immune system mechanisms that would otherwise block allergic reactions. In a small preliminary trial of people with chronic hives, relaxation therapy and hypnosis were shown to provide significant benefit. 

Numerous clinical studies demonstrate that diets that are free of foods or food additives that commonly trigger allergic reactions typically produce significant reductions in symptoms in 50–75% of people with chronic hives. People with hives not clearly linked to a known cause should discuss the possibility of food allergies with a doctor or a health care professional such as a Nutritional Therapist.

As well as allergies approximately two-thirds of people with chronic hives (hives present for more than 6 weeks) have low blood levels of iron. Iron supplementation has the potential to cause side effects, which in some case can be severe. For that reason, iron should not be taken without supervision by a healthcare professional.


Dermatitis is a general term for any type of inflammation of the skin. Types of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

Just to note atopic refers to a form of allergy in which a hypersensitivity reaction such as eczema or asthma may occur in a part of the body not in contact with the allergen.

The distinction between the use of dermatitis and eczema to describe skin disorders can be confusing. Often the terms are used interchangeably, although many people use the term eczema to refer specifically to atopic dermatitis. The inflammation of the skin that accompanies dermatitis (or eczema) produces scaling, flaking, thickening, weeping, crusting, colour changes and often itching.

Several underlying problems can lead to eczema. Such as a condition called ‘leaky gut’ in which for many reasons the intestines may become ‘porous’ and allow tiny particles of undigested food to enter the bloodstream, provoking an inflammatory reaction. Candida (an overgrowth of yeast in the body), food allergies and a genetically based weakness in the enzyme delta-6-desaturase (which converts essential fatty acids into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins) are other possible causes of this condition.

Many cases of dermatitis are simply due to contact with an allergy whether it be environmental or chemical. People may also react to latex, rubber, gold, silver, and nickel found in jewellery and zippers or even a medicated cream. This type of condition is called contact dermatitis.

Whatever the cause if the skin remains in contact the dermatitis is likely to spread and become more severe.

Stress, especially chronic tension can also exacerbate symptoms.

In clinic identifying the cause, then supporting the symptoms is all part of the treatment plan. In some cases further investigations may be recommended following a consultation.

Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is a condition that can cause swelling and irritation in the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. On the skin, lichen planus usually appears as purplish, itchy, flat bumps that develop over several weeks. In the mouth, vagina and other areas covered by a mucous membrane, lichen planus forms lacy white patches, sometimes with painful sores. It may also result in hair loss and nail damage.

Mainly affect middle aged adults, with the mouth form affecting mainly women.

Lichen planus occurs when your immune system attacks cells of the skin or mucous membranes. It’s not clear why this abnormal immune response happens. The condition isn’t contagious.

Lichen planus can be triggered by:

  • Hepatitis C infection
  • Flu vaccine
  • Certain pigments, chemicals and metals
  • Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen.
  • Certain medications for heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis

If your doctor suspects that your lichen planus is related to hepatitis C infection, allergies or a drug you take, you might need other treatment. For example, you may need to switch medications or avoid offending allergens. Working with a Nutritional Therapist to identify allergens and also to develop a food plan to support removal of the allergens is an option.  In the case of a hepatitis C infection, a specialist in liver disease (hepatologist) for further treatment is recommended.


Is an inflammatory skin disorder characterised by pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. For those that suffer from acne, it is not merely a cosmetic problem. The consequences include emotional stress that can have a long impact on a person’s self-esteem.

Acne usually starts after puberty, when the body’s production of androgens increases. These hormones stimulate the production of keratin (a type of protein) and sebum (an oily skin lubricant). If sebum is secreted faster than it can move through the pores, a blemish is formed. The excess oily makes the pores sticky, allowing bacteria to become trapped inside. Blackheads form when sebum combines with skin pigment and blocks the pores. If scales below the surface of the skin become filled with sebum whiteheads appear.

Although proper skincare is important in the treatment of acne, it is not caused by uncleanliness, bit it is more likely a result of overactive oil glands.

Acne can effect teenager and adults. Teenager’s acne usually occurs on the face and upper body whilst adult acne is generally localised to the chin and jawline, and involves fewer, but possibly more painful blemishes.

Women may suffer premenstrual flare ups triggered by the release of progesterone after ovulations. Oral contraceptives high in progesterone may also trigger acne. Candida may also cause hormonal changes that encourage the liver to produce the wrong substances for healthy sebum.

Factors contributing to acne:

  • Heredity
  • Oily skin
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Monthly cycle
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Allergies
  • Stress
  • Steroids
  • OCP
  • Certain medications
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Diets high in saturated fats
  • Exposure to industrial pollutants

It is important to note that the skin is the largest organ in the body and is a reflection of the internal health/balance of your body. One of the skins functions is to eliminate a portion of the body’s toxic waste products via sweating. If the body contains more toxins than the kidneys and liver can eliminate, the skin will take over. As toxins escape through the skin, the skins health integrity is disrupted. This is a key factor behind many skin disorders including acne.


Can also be called leukoderma, a skin condition characterised by chalky white patches of skin surrounded by a dark border. The spots vary from few to many, they may be tiny or cover the whole body. They usually appear on both sides of the body in approximately the same place, and they do not hurt or itch. These spots occur, for some reason, the cells that normally produce the skin pigment melanin are absent. If the affected area is on the scalp, the hair that grows from it is likely to be white as well.

It is not a threat to health. Although it has been linked to Addison’s disease, pernicious anaemia and alopecia areata. The cause is not known but it does run in families and may be related to an autoimmune problem. A thyroid malfunction may also be involved, or following physical trauma to the skin.

Physical and emotional stress may exacerbate the condition and the areas are more susceptible to sunburn so be sun safe!!