What is Your Skin Telling You? A Root Cause Approach

Your skin is not just a barrier to the outside world; it’s a window into your internal health. 

From acne to eczema, the condition of your skin can provide valuable insights into your overall well-being. In functional medicine, we delve deeper into the root causes of skin issues, recognizing that they are often red flags signaling underlying health problems.

If you’ve been told that you will have your current skin condition for the rest of your life, then I’m here to shine a light on a different truth.

The truth is, I have been told that I would have the following skin conditions for the rest of my life or that my only option was medication that would further disrupt my gut microbiome and hormones. I have been diagnosed with rosacea, blepharitis (swelling of the eyelids), cystic acne, tinea versicolor, an MRSA-like infection, and a bizarre lip rash that was diagnosed as cold sores but ended up being heavy metal toxicity.  I even had a doctor tell me there was nothing she could do for my MRSA-like infection but offer antibiotics, so I should just “go home and take a bath”. 

The bath was already my healing sanctuary. Unfortunately, that was as far as she could go with supporting me through an extremely life-threatening skin infection.

In this blog, I hope to offer tons of info on how to explore what different types of skin issues might be telling you and how to address them holistically.

Acne is a common skin problem that can be influenced by a variety of factors including hormonal imbalances, diet, stress, and more. However, where you get acne on your face can provide clues about what’s going on inside your body. This practice, known as facial mapping, links different areas of the face to different internal organs:

  • Forehead: Linked to the digestive system and bladder. 

  • Around the Eyes:  Acne in this area could be a sign of an overburdened liver.

  • Cheeks: Often associated with the lungs and respiratory system. Breakouts here might be linked to smoking, allergies, or pollution.

  • Chin and Jawline: Related to the hormonal system or the digestive system. Pimples in this area can be a sign of hormonal imbalances, often related to the menstrual cycle or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

  • Nose: Connected to the heart and cardiovascular system. Redness or breakouts here might be linked to blood pressure issues or poor circulation.

  • Under the eyes:  Bags under the eyes can be a sign your kidneys need support.


Does this resonate with you? It does for me. I often got acne around my eyes, mouth, and jaw. This correlates completely with my health history and the things I needed to rebalance to finally clear up my chronic acne.

Inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and edema are not just superficial issues; they often reflect systemic inflammation. Rosacea, characterized by redness and visible blood vessels on the face, can be triggered by a variety of factors including diet, stress, and gut health. 


Edema, or swelling, can indicate poor lymphatic drainage, kidney issues, or other systemic problems.


Eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, is often linked to histamine responses from food allergies, sensitivities, or environmental exposures. In functional medicine, addressing eczema involves identifying and eliminating these triggers, whether they are certain foods, pollutants, or other allergens.


Your skin plays a crucial role in detoxification. While your gut, liver, and kidneys are the primary detox organs, your skin helps excrete waste products through sweat. This is why issues like acne or eczema can sometimes be improved by supporting your body’s detox pathways, ensuring proper liver function, and going non-toxic with your body care products.


Persistent skin problems are red flags indicating something is amiss internally. While changes in your skincare routine can sometimes make a significant difference, chronic issues often require a more comprehensive approach. Detoxing from infections, balancing hormones, and supporting drainage pathways are all crucial steps in achieving clear, healthy skin.


Common Skin Issues and Functional Medicine Solutions:

  • Leaky Gut: A compromised gut lining can allow toxins to enter the bloodstream, triggering inflammatory skin responses. Healing the gut through diet, probiotics, and lifestyle changes can improve skin health.
  • Chronic Stress: Stress can disrupt hormone levels and immune function, leading to skin flare-ups. Stress management techniques like meditation, exercise, and adequate sleep are essential.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Hormones play a significant role in skin health. Conditions like PCOS or thyroid imbalances often manifest as acne or other skin issues. Balancing hormones through diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes can help.
  • Mast Cell Activation: Overactive mast cells can release histamines and other chemicals that lead to chronic inflammation and skin issues. Identifying and managing triggers is key.
  • Toxic Skincare Products: Many commercial skincare products contain ingredients that can irritate the skin or disrupt hormones. Opting for natural, non-toxic products can make a big difference.
  • Sluggish Detox Drainage Pathways:  I find that issues often express themselves in the skin when the gut, liver, gallbladder, and lymphatic system become sluggish.


My favorite functional labs to investigate skin issues include:

  • GI Map – Comprehensive Stool Analysis: Looks for bacterial overgrowth, deficient microbiomes, parasites, leaky gut, malabsorption of food, and sluggish detox pathways in the gut.
  • Dutch Hormone Test: Identifies cortisol imbalances, insulin resistance, and excess androgens which can all be the root cause of your acne.
  • Food Sensitivity Test: Especially useful for eczema or histamine-related skin rashes.
  • Bloodwork: Assesses blood sugar stability and possible insulin resistance.


Your skin is a reflection of your internal health. I know that can be a hard reality when you are doing everything to try to make it better. I remember eating and living my healthiest life and still being riddled with painful, cystic acne. That experience is beyond frustrating!


But, I’m here to let you know that understanding the underlying causes of skin issues from a functional medicine perspective can give you clear steps to address these problems at their root. Whether it’s through dietary changes, detoxification, balancing hormones, improving liver functioning, stress management, or using natural skincare products, achieving clear, healthy skin is possible.


Remember, occasional breakouts are normal, but chronic, painful skin issues that keep you from enjoying your life are a signal that something deeper needs attention. And that’s where I come in to help!


If you’re ready to gain access to the right functional lab tests, resources, and guidance to resolve annoying symptoms and regain vibrant energy within your body, I’d be honored to assist you! Click the button below to Schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session with me today!

                                                                   BOOK STRATEGY SESSION with me today!


Coming from someone who wasn’t fully living for so many years of my life due to dysfunctions in my gut and hormones, I’m a firm believer that health is the greatest wealth and the foundation from which the joys of life flourish.

I’m here when you’re ready to receive support!

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