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Dr. Magryta: Skin care

Skin care is an oft forgotten simple way to help your immune system repel invaders.

Since the nasty bacterium Staphylococcus aureus left the hospital in an antibiotic resistant state and entered the general population, we have seen a major uptick in abscesses and poorly controlled eczema.

The reason for this occurrence is partly due to poor skin hygiene.

Your skin is a very large organ that provides many services to your health including a barrier to invaders, synthesis of vitamin D, sweat production to cool down, hair for heat trapping and sensation through touch. Taking care of your skin is of paramount importance to maintain these functions at an optimal level for health.

Your skin needs minerals, vitamins, fats and proteins for full function. The major players are vitamins A, B, C, E as well as the mineral zinc.

A deficiency of any of these micronutrients will cause the skin to become permeable and dysfunctional increasing your risk of disease. An insufficiency state of these same nutrients will weaken the barrier and beneficial functions, thus increasing the risk of toxin penetration and poor response to sun exposure increasing the risks of cancer over time.

We know very clearly now that diet has an effect on many of our skin disease sufferers. Eczema is often exacerbated by IgG and IgG4 food allergy reactions, with casein protein from dairy being the number one offender.

Similarly, teenagers acne is often worsened by excessive refined carbohydrates and dairy products. The cystic acne variety is often seen when weightlifters start consuming dairy based protein powders.

In our clinic, we start with elimination diets and moisturizers as first line therapy against skin disease to assess the dietary contribution to disease before starting any bandaid therapies.

Another critical aspect of skin care is to prevent the itching and scratching from breaking down the skin barrier and leaving a hole for bad hospital based resistant staph bacteria to crawl into.

Skin care recommendations:

• Keep your skin hydrated by patting your skin dry after a shower and lubing up with a good moisturizer within three minutes of getting out of the warm water. For patients with eczema, use blue labeled vaseline for a barrier function. I also like lubriderm, aquaphor, aveeno, shea butter and vitamin a and d ointment.

• When showering or bathing, gently clean your skin with soap and water. No need to vigorously scrub with a brillo pad or exfoliative device. Your body will naturally release skin cells every day that it no longer needs. (smart skin)

• Keep all nails cut and filed to prevent bacteria from finding a hiding place. Wash your hand thoroughly and often especially under the nails. MRSA (antibiotic resistant Staph strain) and MSSA are bacteria that like to live in your nose. Try to avoid picking it and preventing the bad guys from living in your fingernail.

• Eat a ridiculously healthy diet with tons and tons of veggies, fruits, oily fish and nuts and your skin will love you. Anyone suffering acne and poly cystic ovary disease needs to live in a reduced refined sugar and flour free world!

• Get 20-30 minutes of natural sun exposure daily and then apply sunscreen to prevent burning your skin. This is all predicated on your skin tone as darker skin will tolerate a lot more sun than very light skin. From expert Dr. Holick, “Skin pigment is a natural sunscreen. African American children require two to three times as much sun exposure, without sunscreen, to satisfy their requirement for vitamin D.” Know your burn threshold by time and avoid burning.

• If you or your child scratches open a bug bite or rash, rub it with a little isopropyl alcohol to kill the bad guys trying to grow there. A dilute bleach solution can also be used – see below. Roughly a milliliter of bleach in 1 liter of water can be swabbed on the irritated skin safely. Never drink this water!

• Products like 7 cream or a plain manuka honey poultice can be applied to eczematous skin with great results at keeping the bacteria at bay. Calendula cream is a nice anti itch cream sold by Boiron.

• Sweat often from exercise or a sauna/steam room to release toxins through your skin. Shower afterward to wash them off. This is a really important process for humans.

• Drink water to keep hydrated.

Skin is beautiful,

Dr. M

Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at newsletter@salisburypediatrics.com

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