Skin Deep

Author: Anne Gabarre

How important is skin? In 2014, the global skincare market was worth £74 billion, in 2015 that figure will, according to market experts, increase to £77 billion. Skin that most visible of markers, tells us a lot about our state of health, emotional and physical. Those clients who come to see me with skin complaints have often lived with them for a long time and are desperate to find a solution that is not short term.

As a homeopath I see the symptoms as clues to underlying causes. I will seek to understand whether the skin or nail or hair condition, is a manifestation of a more general imbalance, hence a lot of questions which might at the outset appear to have no relation to the condition being experienced.

When someone complains of very dry skin, one of the first questions I’ll ask will be about digestive health. By looking at the cause, in this case, the gut, we can treat the underlying problem. Open sores might also be a sign of inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract — the healthier the gut, the healthier the skin.

If I see puffiness around the eyes, it will alert me to potential kidney issues. Dark marks under the eyes will lead me to check the state of the adrenals and how the person is affected by stress, while overall painful puffiness could indicate an issue with the lymph system.

Rashes that breakout on various parts of the body are among the most common of symptoms, especially for those going through adolescence. While the causes can be complex, location and intensity provide vital clues: breakouts exclusively on the forehead and chest may point to issues with the liver, those on the chin, a hormonal imbalance. Depending on their precise location, the very same symptoms could also be linked to an overabundance of stress hormones.

Applying cortisone cream on your skin will not result in healing. If the medication is withdrawn the symptoms return. In the vast majority of cases, the person who is taking medication is not undergoing a cure but controlling the symptoms. In homeopathy, the aim is to return to a healthy state of well-being that is not dependent on medication. It is important to make the distinction between treating symptoms and finding a cure.

Understanding the relationship people have with their skin ailments is as important as the client’s physical well-being. A teenager’s emotional relationship is likely to be different to that of a middle-aged man or women with the same skin complaint. Being comfortable in our skin an intrinsic part of our well-being. Our relationship to our skin is both physical and emotional.

Not all skin problems are treatable. Some are genetic and in many cases the aetiology unknown. Symptoms can last for years, or in some cases a lifetime. Dermatographia is a rare skin complaint marked by an imbalance of histamine. The slightest abrasion, scratching or rubbing and the skin swells and reddens. An estimated 4% to 5% of the world’s population are affected by dermatographia. For some, it will be a lifelong ailment.

Ariana Page Russell is one of those 4% to 5%. An artist, she has turned, what for many is a socially disabling, even shaming, condition into a work of art. A woman who is fully in her skin. Ariana has redefined her relationship to dermatographia and in doing so reframed what it means to be healthy. You can find more about Ariana and her work here.

Photograph courtesy of, Ariana Page Russell

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