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Do you ever feel like your skin is just mad at you?
Those are the times when your skin is heating up, angry, irritated, itchy. You try to fight back against it by scratching it… but that only makes it madder. Then you try to calm it down by putting a cream on it. That kind of works, but you still have the feeling your skin is upset.
This is called skin inflammation and it can show up as red skin, bumps, itching, peeling, blistering, swelling, pain, or a warm sensation. Acute skin inflammation is a short-term problem caused by things like skin-irritating plants or harsh chemicals. It usually heals in a matter of hours or days. But chronic skin inflammation lasts for weeks, months, or years. Sometimes it goes away for a while and then comes back. Psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema (dermatitis) are examples of conditions that cause chronic skin inflammation.
What causes skin inflammation?
Turns out your skin is not really mad at you. It’s just trying to protect you. The symptoms you’re seeing are the result of an immune response, which means your skin is trying to protect you from harmful substances… even though sometimes the immune response is more painful than whatever triggered it. This is especially true with chronic skin inflammation because it causes more damage to the skin than acute inflammation.
Acute skin inflammation can often be avoided by staying away from things that trigger it. Chronic skin inflammation is more complicated, and if you don’t do something to reduce how often it occurs, the damage to your skin will add up. So should you try creams? Pills? Injections? There are many skin treatments out there, and that’s something you can ask your doctor about. But there are also foods you can eat to lower your risk of skin inflammation.
Foods That Help Reduce Inflammation
If you’re struggling with chronic skin inflammation, making some adjustments to your diet may be able to help. There isn’t one go-to food that prevents skin inflammation, but adding several anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can reduce the instances of your skin trying too hard to protect you. Look for foods that contain healthy fats, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Some examples of anti-inflammatory foods include fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and sardines), berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, leafy greens (such as spinach, collards, and kale), and nuts (such as walnuts, cashews, and almonds). The Mediterranean diet is known for being anti-inflammatory because it focuses on whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
Including more of these foods in your diet is helpful, but also, try to cut back on processed foods because they may inflame your skin! Julia Zumpano, a registered dietician, describes processed foods as “anything that comes in a box or a bag, or anything that has a laundry list of ingredients — especially if they start with sugar, salt or a processed oil and include ingredients you don’t recognize.” Sweets, fried foods, salty snacks, and processed meats are all examples of foods it’s a good idea to eat less of.
Skin inflammation is annoying, but changing your diet can make it happen less often. And don’t forget the basics like drinking plenty of water, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, and managing your stress. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll have a good relationship with your skin instead of fighting against it.