Making Skin Irritations & Disorders Go Away

Posted on May 30, 2012


Bumps on your arms. Or your back. Or your legs. “Chicken skin arms”. This is not acne, nope, you can’t make this skin condition go away with the latest upgrade to  the ProActiv skincare line shilled to you by some of-the-moment celeb. This is  Kerastosis Pilaris & if you’ve got it, you know it. And it sucks…because you’ll likely try every skin-care tip that those glossy magazines and websites offer as the ‘finally-the-best-guaranteed’ skincare routine for getting rid of pilaris kerastosis. And sooner or later, you’ll realize all those people writing those ‘cure-all’ methods of scrubbing and slathering are lying jerks (or supremely uneducated) because you tried their method (and 87 others) & you still have bumps on your body.

I’m not going to be one of those who promises a cure, but I am going to offer you a thought to see if maybe, just maybe you can actually get those bumps to go away. ‘Cuz it ain’t normal to have bumpy skin – I don’t care what doctor tells you, “that’s just the way you are,” that’s NOT just the way you are and you may be able to do something about it. After trying to get rid of the bumps on my arms for as many years as I’ve been alive and aware that I had weird bumps on me, I finally got mine to go away – so who knows – this just may work for you too. But maybe not, because there’s waaaay more to optimal health than just 1 cure-all ‘fix’, so don’t hate on me if you still have bumps after trying what I did.

First let me tell you what I did that didn’t work: I scrubbed w/ a hard brush in the shower, I used one of those soaps that has “acne medicine” in it, I switched my sunscreen, I tried laying in the sun more(in case I wasn’t getting ENOUGH vitD), I tried picking them (for the love of all things holy, do not do this!!!), I tried using alpha-hydroxy pads meant for peeling layers of dead skin off your aged-face on the backs of my arms, I switched to an all-natural soap (like seriously all-natural, practically make-it-yourself all-natural, castile soap w/ no fragrances), I switched my lotion from the pretty-smelling ones to a plain lotion (again, all-natural, no gluten, no parabens, etc), I switched my detergent to an all-natural, unscented one, I tried just about every do-it-yourself scrub routine listed in whatever glossy mag landed on my doorstep each month.

So when I tell you I tried a lot of things, I really did. Maybe I can spare you the time I wasted…none of them worked.

Could It Really Be ALL About Diet?

When we (Drew and I) first began considering the pros of switching from a gluten-free diet to a paleo diet, one of the things Robb Wolf talked a lot about in his podcasts (which are free ya’ll and you’re crazy if you don’t download them, those things are science-as-told-by-your-smart-ass-best-friend-who-when-half-drunk-is-still-smarter-than-you-solid-gold) was skin irritations from eczema to acne that were cured after going on a paleo diet, specifically, an auto-immune protocol of the diet. **Also get Robb’s podcasts via your smartphone in iTunes by searching “Robb Wolf”**

First off, a paleo diet is essentially an anti-inflammatory diet – as in – you eat foods that are rich in ANTI-inflammatory properties, and you avoid foods that are PRO-inflammatory. Foods that are anti-inflammatory are high-quality meats/fish, veggies & fruits, and certain fats (especially coconut oil, which is anti-bacterial, sort of ‘scrubbing you out’ from the inside when consumed, and thus why some homeopathic cancer diets recommend consuming daily Tbsp’s of straight coconut oil).

Foods that are PRO-inflammatory are grains (highly acidic AND contain a large protein called lectin, which wiggles its way through the gut lining of the majority of humans, essentially leaving the barn door open for the lectins and all the other food particles to get out & begin circulating in your body. This sets off your immune response to attack anything that looks like the food particles, and unfortunately in the process, it ends up attacking your human cells too. Some people think they have no issues with grains, but most actually are having symptoms that have become ‘normal’ parts of aging & will become noticeable once a person goes without grains for 30 days to see how “normal” begins to change for them.), dairy (which also contains gut irritants, especially casein, which is similar in size and function to gluten), legumes (peanuts & beans, which also contain lectins), sugar, processed foods, and soy.

This allows the gut lining to begin to heal and close itself so that food particles are no longer escaping into the bloodstream and setting off an immune reaction in other areas of your body, like the organs, tissues, joints, and brain. I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot – because really – what’s 30 days if it means I start to see some results. I think even the most skeptical person can grant that 30 days is not that long when it could mean your health and life take a turn for the better. And if giving up those addictive grains & cheese is just too much for you, then you’re just not sick enough to try. ‘Cuz when people are searching, really searching, for an answer..they’re willing to try even the “craziest” of ideas, like giving up grains. The symptoms are THAT BAD that giving up grains holds enough potential to give it a shot….and for me, bumps on my arms were a symptom that something was going on “under the hood” that may become a much more serious issue down the road. For instance, what if the bloat or bumps or GERD is a symptom of your immune system saying “hey! the check engine light is ON! achtung!” And you’re all “m’eh, that’s just the way I am.” So your body 1o years from now is all “ok, told ya so, I can’t take it anymore…insert disease HERE.”

I digress…my point is that I was willing to try because what did I have to lose? Nothing else had made the bumps on my arms go away, may as well try. So I followed a paleo diet for 30 days. And I haven’t stopped following a paleo diet since then. And it’s been 13 months now, and shocker of shockers, I am almost bump-free!

Be Your Own Science Experiment

My arms started clearing after I seriously reduced my egg consumption, as well as my nut consumption. Some folks who lean more into the auto-immune condition camp also have cross-reactions to compounds in nuts, eggs, and nightshades (tomatoes/potatoes). So I eliminated them 1 by 1 from my diet for a period of time, and then re-introduced them to see what happened. Eggs & nuts seemed to have the biggest response for me in arm bumpy-ness. Eat them a lot (several times per week), and I have bumps. Eat eggs 2-3x/month and stick mainly to macadamia nuts (which are lowest in n-6 fatty acids as compared to other nuts, which are quite high in the not-so-awesome n-6 fatty acids) & my body does well. My conclusion is that large doses of egg proteins and excessive n-6, especially from nuts, seems to flare up my immune system by raising little pilaris kerastosis bumps on my arms.

And it wasn’t just my backs of my arms that began changing for the better. Within 30 days of going paleo, my face became much brighter and clearer. I never had acne on my face (thank GOD!) but my skin was dull and I had dark circles under my eyes, for which I used every under-eye concealer and lotion out there. I started getting asked what I was doing for my skin. I stopped wearing any under-eye concealer, I stopped wearing any kind of base/bronzer, except when I was doing night-out make-up when bronzer is an obvious must.

Stick It Out – This is Not Miracle-ville

While I hoped my bumps would be gone after 30, 60, or even 90 days – I saw modest improvements in the overall bumpy-ness  over that time period – it was really closer to 6 months when my arms started more fully clearing.

(Side note: I had LOTS of other things I was hoping would improve on an anti-inflammatory/paleo-style diet, and they did improve – DRAMATICALLY – which is why I stuck with this way of eating. I also stuck with it because, having taken numerous nutrition courses in college and having tried the low-fat/carb-based diet that is recommended by the USDA & having looked into vegetarianism – there simply isn’t another way of eating that makes this much sense. The science is there. I can’t say the same for the USDA rec’s and while I appreciate vegetarians’ approach to ‘love all things on Earth’, they’re wrong about meat being the problem when it comes to long-term health. The fact is, eating an anti-inflammatory diet is easy to do for the rest of your life. It’s not a “diet”, it’s not super restrictive, and it re-directs our intuition back to hearing our body’s real signals of hunger, satiety, “feeling good”, and overall health.)

And being able to do this for the long-haul is important…because as I found with my own Kerastosis Pilaris, it takes a while for the body to truly begin healing YEARS of improper nutrition. Did you know it can take 5 years for a gluten-intolerant individual to heal their gut from the damage of eating gluten up to the point of diagnosis? 5 years to get back to restored health. Most people are far too impatient to go the long haul, but I encourage you to not be an impatient type & see what is really possible with a change to your diet and/or lifestyle. It’s not a death sentence to make changes to your diet and lifestyle if it means you actually get MORE years on your life and BETTER quality years from the changes you’ve made.

So for my fellow Kerastosis Pilaris friends out there, consider what a change to your diet could do for your skin. And for everyone who never had to hide the little bumps on their arms, what symptoms that you’ve grown to consider “normal” may be positively affected by changing some part of your diet/lifestyle? You’re the driver in this life, why settle for “that’s just the way it is” when there is massive potential for you to make it whatever you want it to be…