Inflammatory Skin Conditions

Inflammatory skin conditions are chronic skin ailments that can cause dry, itchy patches. These patches are generally uncomfortable and itchy, and may cause both physical and mental discomfort to the patient. The scratching that results may cause skin infections and abnormal thickening of the skin. Atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema) is the most common inflammatory skin disease in childhood, affecting 10-15% of children. Psoriasis vulgaris is another common skin problem, affecting 1-2% of the US population.

Skin is the primary interface between the body and the environment and is exposed to chemicals, microbes, extreme temperatures and other insults on a daily basis. The cutaneous exposures to antigens cause an expansion of a selective group of memory T Cells that circulate to the skin. The T cells contain a marker called cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA) which may be involved in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. CLA-positive T cells secrete higher amounts of inflammatory interleukins in response to common skin antigens such as Staphylococcal infections, initiating a generalized inflammatory reaction in the skin.

Natural remedies have helped in the management of inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, It was estimated that 35-69% of patients with dermatological disease used complementary or alternative medicine to treat the skin condition. Natural remedies have been researched over the years for inflammatory skin conditions showing statistically significant improvements.

Honey is a traditional medicine dating back 1400 years and has been used in Middle Eastern cultures for many different health conditions including inflammatory skin conditions. It has been shown in a number of studies to reduce the release of pro-inflammatory interleukins, while also inhibiting the activation of inflammatory genes. This has borne out clinically as well. One example is a patient-blinded, partially controlled clinical trial published inComplementary Therapies in Medicine that investigated the use of a topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil for people with dermatitis and psoriasis.1 Twenty-one patients with dermatitis and eighteen patients with psoriasis were included in the study. In the honey mixture group, 8 out of 10 patients with atopic dermatitis showed significant improvement after two weeks. In psoriasis, 5 out of 8 patients showed significant response to honey mixture. This study indicates that honey may be a useful consideration in the management of inflammatory skin conditions. There are many natural therapies that can be used internally and externally to reduce excessive inflammation in the skin, offering the promise of relief from these painful and challenging conditions.

Adapted from article by Christine Toomasi, N.D.
1 Al-Waili NS. Topical application of natural honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis; partially controlled, single-blinded study. Complete Ther Med. 2003 Dec; 11(4):226-34