There are a lot of every day symptoms you may think are normal or signs of aging, like gas and bloating, headaches, and joint pain. My take on symptoms is that if something bothers you and hinders your comfort level with your body, then it’s probably not supposed to be there in the first place. Hence, my frustration around what’s been going on with me.
You may have recently seen my post on Instagram about my chronically itchy and flaky scalp. I wanted to share my story with you so you can watch as I give it my best effort to uncover the root cause(s) of this issue of mine (and maybe yours, too). This is part one of my journey.
I’ve dealt with this for years. It’s progressively gotten worse, most recently encroaching on my hair line and onto my face, ears, and neck. My dry, flaking scalp used to be just an embarrassing feature that I could cover up with my long hair. The last two to three years, however, have been the pinnacle of pain and frustration, with itchiness and scabbing worsening.
As a late teen and early twenties university student, I had a bad habit of picking my scalp while I studied. This wasn’t the cause of my dry scalp, but it definitely didn’t help. I’m still kicking the habit. I love to pick things, what can I say! (Chalk it up to anxiety). And only sometimes would it actually itch. Now, it itches a lot and sometimes to the point where I can’t stop itching and feel like I’m going crazy! Needless to say, it’s not a happy place to be.
As a holistic nutritionist, I know better than to assume it’s just something I have to deal with. There’s a reason for my scalp madness and I’m determined to find its root and clear it up for good! When dealing with any issue, especially one that’s been lingering for a while, changing along the way, I believe it’s best to really get real with myself and strip it down to the bare facts in order to see results. There are many layers to healing and I’ll be tackling one at a time to uncover the source of my itchy and flaky scalp.
STEP 1: Assess My Symptoms
Over the years, I’ve noticed a few skin issues. Not only has my scalp has gotten worse, but I’ve always had bumps on the back of my arms and sometimes on my legs. More recently, I’ve noticed dry patches on my hands and arms during certain times of the year, as well as massively clogged facial pores. And since childhood, I’ve had a sensitive bottom (like a baby) that can become irritated if under the wrong conditions, like a long, sweaty hike. Lastly, I still get acne, sometimes cystic, mostly on my chin and sometimes on the backs of my shoulders. Not a lot, but it happens.
The skin’s surface is a pathway for the body to remove waste products it doesn’t need anymore through sweat and secretion. If there’s something wrong with the process, the skin will show it in any of the forms I described above, and more. Below the skin’s surface are all the other detoxification pathways that I can’t see, like my liver, kidneys, blood, and lymph. If my skin is constantly clogging, drying up, and becoming irritated, then there must be something going on deeper down that needs my attention.
Before I dive too deep, I want to see whether anything I’m doing right now can be improved upon to enhance or alleviate the situation, like changes to what I’m eating, drinking, breathing, and doing, which leads me to my top places to start:
Since May, my schedule has been irregular week to week. As such, I’ve not been focusing as much on drinking adequate amounts of water on the daily. I’ve noticed a slip in my energy levels, cravings for snacks, and slight headaches as a result. A not so obvious side effect could also be my dry skin, so I’ll be drinking up ye ol’ filtered water for days to come!
I’ve suspected the water in my apartment building is a little too harsh for me for a while. I’ve been here for a year and my symptoms haven’t gotten any better, so I’m going to invest in a shower filter to see if it can’t help my scalp situation.
On a similar note, since I’m on the topic of showering, I’ve already cut back on the number of times I wash my hair per week (down to 2-3, aiming for 1), but I’m also trying to reduce the number of times I rinse my hair per week, since rinsing exposes my scalp to more water and heat from the blow drier.
Lastly on this note, I’m already using pretty bare bones products (Carina Organics dry scalp shampoo once per week and Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap the other times), but have been doing more research into what the skin needs and finding these may not be the right products for me after all. It’s on my list.
Fats & Protein
I’m increasing the amount of good fats in my diet, as well as the quality of fats, aiming for a higher amount of Omega 3’s in my diet, not just Omega 6’s. A balance of both (1:3 respectfully) is needed for healthy cells and skin, and I noticed my intake was a bit off.
The variety of protein types in my diet could also stand to change. Not consciously, I’ve been limiting myself to a small handful of protein sources (chicken, beef, chickpeas, nuts & seeds, and protein powder), not on purpose, but because I’m more familiar with them. Sure, I eat other sources, like lentils, quinoa, and turkey, but I really want to explore other avenues, like organ meats, cooking my own beans and legumes from scratch, and sprouting greens. I’m only going to slightly increase the amount of protein I’m taking in daily, since I don’t want to take in too much and cause more scalp build-up, so I’ll take this one in stages.
I’m back on vitamin A for healthy skin, as well as fish and flax oils to help increase my fat intake and achieve a better balance of Omega 3’s to 6’s. I’m also back on vitamin D, since summer is almost out and I want to get ahead of the seasonal dip. Lastly, I’m taking an adrenal support supplement to manage my anxiety, along with the below…
The art of breathing really is a practice. Sure, our bodies naturally breathe for us, but the rate at which we do it is on us. I’ve noticed that my breathing has been really shallow and sometimes stifled if I’m really anxious. So, it’s back to yoga and meditation for me to get my breathing in check.
Deep breathing slows the body down, bringing your mind back into a state of relaxation that allows your physical body to do its thing to heal. Healing, by the way, isn’t just something you do when you’re sick. Your body is constantly maintaining homeostasis, which, when you think about it, is a way of healing from what it endures throughout the day.
That’s it. Plain and simple!
Where I Want To Be
Here, always. And don’t we all? Granted, this is where I live for the most part. It’s when my symptoms get the better of me and I start to feel out of control that I get perturbed.
I want you to know that we all have something we’re dealing with. It’s whether we choose to do something about it that matters. For a long time, I ignored my ailments. They were always sub-clinical and just kind of abnormal and annoying from time to time, but nothing that got in my way, so to speak. Now, I know better than to ignore these types of things. My body is speaking up louder than ever and I’ve stopped ignoring it.
Thank your body for showing you that it needs help and find a way to help it. There’s always a way, with a will.
More on my journey in future posts, but if you’re finding yourself on a similar path, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask more about what I’m doing to heal. I’d love to chat with you and help motivate you through your healing journey, as well.