What is Leaky Skin

I am guessing that most of you have heard of Leaky Gut before. It has been quite the buzz word in the natural health circles for the last 5-10 years. Leaky gut occurs when the there is a problem with how the intestinal lining is working. When it is working properly the intestinal lining, forms a nice tight barrier which keeps particles that should be in the digestive tract in there and does not allow them to get out into the bloodstream. If this barrier is not in good shape, which happens from eating foods you are sensitive to and being under high levels of stress, the compromised gut lining allows undigested food particles and toxins to be released into the blood stream. As these things should not be in the bloodstream, your immune system flags them as foreign invaders, which can contribute to a variety of health conditions like autoimmune diseases and skin conditions.


Newer research is showing that this same phenomenon can also happen in the skin. The skin is designed to be a semi permeable barrier, much like a coffee filter. It allows certain substances to pass through, while others are meant to be kept out. When your skin is “leaky” it is not acting like the barrier to the outside world that it should be. This allows substances in the environment to get through the skin’s barrier and into the blood stream. Common substances that pass through are food particles, toxins and allergens.


Eczema and Leaky Skin

Leaky gut and leaky skin both contribute to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Having a leaky gut allows particles into the blood stream that cause an immune response. This immune response often results in inflammation of the skin. Eczema, psoriasis and rosacea are all rooted in skin inflammation. Eczema tends to be open and raw and is often quite itchy leading to further compromises in the skin’s barrier function. It is now thought that babies with eczema are at a greater risk of food allergies and intolerances from food particles passing through eczema patches and creating an immune response in the body. These food particles should not be in the blood stream without first being broken down by digestion. The exposure to them in their non broken-down state can cause the body to start rejecting them even when they are eaten.


What to Do

There are many ways to help protect the barrier function of the skin. It all starts in the gut. Having an unhealthy gut bacterial balance can negatively influence the skin via the neuropeptide substance P. Substance P increases the release of histamine in the skin. Histamine is very inflammatory. High levels of histamine are seen in eczema.


Keeping the skin well moisturized is very important. Dry skin is itchy skin. Scratching of the skin damages the skins barrier and leads to more access points for toxins and food particles to enter the bloodstream. Using a good moisturizer, that is non-toxic and contains Shea Butter, like our Body Butter or Baby Lotion helps to seal the barrier of the skin and keep invaders out.


The skin’s barrier is also very dependent on pH levels. Using non-toxic skincare products helps to maintain the proper pH of the skin. Another important factor in skin pH is the water you use for bathing. Chlorinated water, in towns and cities, alters the pH of the skin, making it more susceptible to barrier disruptions. One easy way to combat this, is to install a filter containing vitamin C on your shower head. Vitamin C helps to neutralize the effects of the chlorine so that it will no longer alter the pH of your skin.


If your baby or child has eczema already, it is very important to apply a moisturizer to their face before eating that will help to preserve the skin’ barrier function and keeps unwanted food particles from entering into their blood stream. This reduces the risk of developing food sensitivities. Eco Chic Movement’s Diaper Cream works great for this purpose as it is 100% oil based and food cannot easily penetrate it.


So, there you have it! An introduction to Leaky Skin as well as some practical tips on how to maintain your skin’s barrier.


Want to learn more? Grab our Eczema Eraser Workshop- it is a 2 hour pre-recorded workshop that helps get to the bottom of your baby's eczema


Dr Alexis


Dr Alexis practices virtually, and is available to see patients who live in Ontario. Click here to book your appointment


Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health benefits


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