Thursday, 23 March 2006 09:45

Skin Disorders of Contemporary Times

Written by   Anne Willis

The aesthetic industry is opening itself to what is unique about contemporary times, detaching from outdated procedures and instead adjusting them to our current needs. Cultural, environmental, and dietary changes within our society have altered how our skin interacts with traditional treatments. In order to provide optimal results to our clients we must begin by acknowledging various skin conditions that are on the rise in our culture, understand their source and adjust our procedures accordingly.

Physical and Emotional Toxicity

Skin is a barometer for internal conflict, whether it is mental, spiritual, or physical. Skin is the cream that rises to the top! It takes two weeks for wrong foods and undigested emotions to appear.

How do we choose to digest life? Emotional and spirit driven behavior can also be reflected through the skin. We not only digest what we eat, but also our thoughts. Mental food - emotions release hormones. Since hormones regulate our sebaceous secretion, emotions will cause blemishes.

Being conscious of eating habits can often make us more conscious of our thoughts. Our bodies are much like the four seasons. It is continually creating new cells and getting rid of dead cells. There are three processes vital to human health; appropriation (taking in food, air, water etc.) assimilation (absorbing nutrients to create new cells) and elimination (expelling waste/toxins). If any of these is unbalanced, this can lead to less than optimal health. We need to take in the right food and eliminate by-products and waste. We eliminate waste through the digestive system, the lungs, and the skin. If the digestive system is sluggish waste may have to be expelled via the skin as blemishes or blocked pores.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) now largely consists of processed foods, refined sugars, fats, artificial flavorings, and hormone induced meats. More and more individuals are being medicated for whatever ails them or they choose to self medicate with over-the-counter drugs, all of which filters through to the digestive track sterilizing the environment. Good bacteria are destroyed and an acidic climate occurs allowing for negative bacteria to breed.

Since the skin is responsible for the excretion of one quarter of the body’s waste products, any dysfunction of the skin in this field will put stress on the other three eliminatory organs, namely, the kidney’s, the lungs, and the bowels, as they will have to deal with the extra burden. Thus a problem in the eliminatory capacity of the skin can lead to secondary problems in the other organs and difficulties with the skin. Each system in our body responds to the others behavior and therefore if one organ has deficiencies or disorders it will affect how other systems function. Much like nature responding to all the elements that keeps it alive and thriving. Keeping skin healthy is as important as regulating high blood pressure, reducing cholesterol or monitoring blood sugar. In treating our clients we have to remember to work more holistically. Holistic is the perfect unity of all things.

With more and more people creating acidic conditions within the digestive track through poor diet, emotional imbalances, and rising stress levels there is a variety of skin disorders occurring, such as rosacea, bacterial infections, adult acne, dehydration, and compromised blood vessels. Rising stress levels also add to the body’s already depleted deficiencies. Fewer nutrients are able to assimilate, thus lowering our immune response.

Identifying the Origin of the Skin Disorder

Understanding the origin of all skin disorders is vital when determining how to proceed with treatments and recommending proper home care.

Having your client fill out a health history chart that encompasses not only physical health, but also emotional attitudes can provide great insights as to the source of an individuals skin conditions. Traditionally, aestheticians were taught that fine lines indicate dehydration. Compromised blood vessels and redness reveal sensitivity. Blemishes are caused due to oiliness. When examining the skin today we are seeing a rise in these conditions and their source is not based on the same origin as let’s say a decade ago.

Compromised blood vessels can be due to collapsed skin tissue. When the skin tissue becomes extremely dehydrated it collapses and therefore the blood vessels do not have the support they need, so they weaken and break. More individuals are chemically over treating their skin, which is creating an acidic climate similar to what is happening to the digestive track. Deficiencies of sebum, compromised blood vessels, collapsed tissue, and nutritional deficits are a few of the conditions being created by these applications.Since poor diet and stress is part of our mainstream culture compromised digestive systems are on the rise. The body is not eliminating as it should and therefore toxins are sitting stagnant within the tissue. Since the skin is responsible for a quarter of the bodies’ elimination of waste it is no wonder that we are seeing an increase in bacterial infections and blemished skins.

Adult acne is more prevalent among woman stretching their roles from mother and wife to executive, caregiver, and homemaker. Stress releases hormones that will affect sebaceous activity and can contribute to a cystic condition. Stress has also contributed to a decrease in fertility and imbalance in female menstruation. Drugs being prescribed will affect hormone secretion also contributing to skin breakouts.

How to proceed?

The relationship one has with their aesthetician needs to be based on trust. Trust is crucial to this relationship- trust in the practitioner’s professional competence, confidentiality, commitment, sincerity, and ethics. You want to be able to form an alliance or collaboration with your client so that they feel their concerns, not yours, are the focus of the work. Look for an interactive rather than strictly hierarchical relationship. Taking an authoritarian position prevents the client from being involved in his or her own self-healing process.

You are not there to give orders. When you attach yourself to “I know”, you are controlling the healing process. There is no room for control with terms when you are providing true healing. If you feel the source of the skin disorder is due to deficiencies or disorders from internal organs, allow the client to examine the lifestyle choices they are making and let them research how those choices are affecting the function of their skin. Having a list of professionals to refer your client to for various health issues and dietary concerns is a wonderful way of navigating your clients towards wellness. Compromised systems require less vigorous applications, and supplementary treatments are necessary for interruptions taking place within the physiology of the skin. Conventional protocols such as scrubs, steam, hot towels, extractions, highly stimulating massage and even untreated tap water for cleansing and removing products can clash with what the skin is capable of managing during a treatment.

Conducting an appropriate evaluation of skin type and skin conditions as well as life choices, will allow you to provide your client with optimal results. Observing whether skin appears warm or cool will help you decipher whether the skin is in need of cooling down or heating up. Monitoring the skins reaction to each step of a facial treatment is essential in determining where deficiencies lie and which applications will be of support. It is crucial to stay connected to the modalities and traditions of our industry.

Providing more hydration, nutritional support, and a safe place for your clients to self heal is the best protocol in treating internal imbalances. Developing massage techniques that work on the parasympathetic nervous system, allows the body to recover from the stresses of our ever-changing world. In an age where everything we are expose to is technology driven, it is nice to treat your clients to the healing powers of touch. Touch can be of very different quality, ranging from aggressive, abusive, and mechanical to more nurturing, caring, and intuitive. The caring touch used in treatments will help to trigger the self-healing process within. Encourage clients to include stress-reducing activities into their lives, such as, listening to soothing music, taking a walk with a friend, learning to belly dance, or whatever they can do to calm the internal climate of their bodies.

When delving deeper into the concept of physical and healthy beauty, we cannot ignore or elude all systems that contribute to healing, such as touch therapy, herbal remedies, nutrition, exercise, or energy work. All of these practices and many others have an intrinsic place in the therapeutic wholeness of skin care.

Anne Willis has been in the aesthetic industry since 1976. In 1984 she developed skin care programs designed specifically for pre and post-operative cosmetic surgery. These protocols were utilized by more than 20 plastic surgeons in South Florida, and are recognized by the international medical and aesthetic community. Willis opened her own spa in 1986 continuing to treat plastic surgery patients as well as offer holistic facial treatments to the general public. As a contributor to several major trade magazines, co-author of industry books and guest speaker to both international medical and aesthetic conventions, Willis has become a recognized expert in the field of aesthetics.

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