Thrive’s resident naturopath Angela Haldane has a raft of natural remedies on hand for hot-weather skin troubles.
With several weeks of summer still to go, our skin is crying out for moisturisers to nourish its weather-beaten cells. Make sure you have plenty of moisturiser on hand – keep it in the car, on the kitchen bench and so on, and frequently apply on the go. Your dry, cracked skin will be grateful for natural, vitamin E-based, preferably unperfumed moisturiser.
Add plenty of essential fatty acids to your diet by eating avocados, nuts, seeds and fish (especially oily sardines), and use cold-pressed olive oil on your bread and in salads.
Hydration is also key. Always keep bottles of water handy, preferably in glass or stainless-steel vessels.
Natural sunblocks designed for sensitive skin, which also have effective SPF factors to block our harsh UV rays, include Oasis Sun SPF50+, My Sunshine SPF30 and Skinnies SPF30+.
I am known for having drawers full of long-sleeved shirts with collars, which are great for protecting your neck and chest area. Take a sarong with you wherever you go. Pull it out if are caught up in conversation in the full sun and you can feel your skin burning. If you cover up, you’ll need less sunscreen. Plan your day so that you are indoors from 10am to 3pm when the sun is strongest. Remember, even on a cloudy day, around 80 percent of UV radiation can still get through.
When thinking about how to deal with various skin conditions, there are a few factors to consider at the outset. What characteristics does the skin present with? Is it hot, dry and cracking? Then the herbal medicine you choose needs to have cooling and moistening properties, for example aloe vera gel. Every household should grow one of these plants. Aloe vera is excellent for burns and sunburn, as it is very soothing. And aloe vera gel has excellent healing properties.
To restore balance for a moist skin condition, you need herbs with drying, astringent properties, such as black tea or mānuka, which contain tannins. Make a tea, which will be brown due to the tannins, allow to cool and bathe the skin with this brew.
If your skin is itchy, this is due to the histamines released by the mast cells, which suggests an allergic reaction to a topical agent such as nickel, perfumes, washing powders or latex, or a food intolerance.
Chickweed is a little green herb “often seen around lamp posts after the rain”, it has been said. It is very soothing for eczema and itchy skin. Put a handful of chickweed in the blender. It’s quite a juicy plant, so it will blend down to a poultice and be ready to apply.
If a skin condition lasts more than a week and is failing to heal, you need to think about whether you could have a fungal or bacterial infection. For fungal infections, Kiwiherb mānuka oil is effective and available in retail outlets nationwide. Mānuka oil can be applied to the skin undiluted.
Bacterial infections are trickier to tackle and I would recommend seeing a doctor for treatment. Early treatment will avoid scarring and resistant infection, which can become very nasty and may require hospitalisation. There is an increasing risk of antibiotic resistance in our community, so to avoid this, take the complete course of antibiotics as prescribed.
Support your skin treatment plan by eating foods rich in zinc (oysters, seafood, red meat and pumpkin kernels) and vitamin A (liver, seafood, cheese, egg yolk and full-fat milk). Protein is also important for cellular repair. Nourish your skin every day, and you will reap the rewards.