An autoimmune rash can be a distressing and persistent challenge, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Fortunately, there are holistic remedies that may help to reverse this kind of rash naturally. This symptom of autoimmune disease is the result of the immune system attacking the body and causing inflammation, discomfort, and a wide range of symptoms that affect daily life. Inflammatory symptoms may show up as a rash if you have a chronic autoimmune illness, but the type and severity of the rash may depend on the type of autoimmune disease you have. Read on to find out more on how to reverse autoimmune rashes naturally with a holistic approach to diet and lifestyle.
An autoimmune rash is an inflammatory response triggered by the immune system's misguided attack on healthy cells. It often appears as itchy, red patches or bumps that may blister and ooze when aggravated. While these rashes can result from various factors, their presence may indicate an underlying autoimmune disorder that requires attention. (Source)
An autoimmune rash is a visible manifestation of an underlying autoimmune condition, but it doesn't often appear in isolation. If you are experiencing an autoimmune rash, you may also notice a range of other symptoms that indicate your immune system is compromised. Following are some common symptoms associated with autoimmune rashes.
A strong connection exists between gut health and the immune system. If you are dealing with autoimmune rashes you may also experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea, often signaling food sensitivities or an imbalance in gut flora. (Source)
Brain fog, characterized by forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and a general sense of mental cloudiness, can be another telltale sign of autoimmunity. This cognitive impairment may be related to inflammation affecting the brain but may also be tied to other inflammatory conditions and chronic illnesses as well. (Source)
Autoimmune conditions often go hand-in-hand with food sensitivities or intolerances. Your immune system may overreact to certain foods, triggering inflammation and exacerbating autoimmune rashes and other symptoms. (Source)
Extreme fatigue and a general lack of energy can also accompany autoimmune rashes, as your body's resources are diverted to fighting perceived threats and managing the resulting inflammation. (Source)
At the core of autoimmune rashes and the myriad associated symptoms is a compromised immune system. When the immune system is functioning optimally, it can distinguish between harmful invaders and the body's own cells. However, in cases of autoimmune disease, this delicate balance is disrupted, leading to a confused immune response that targets healthy cells.
The appearance of an autoimmune rash is often a signal that your immune system is struggling to maintain balance and protect your body effectively, but by addressing the factors that contribute to a weakened immune system — such as diet and lifestyle choices — you can take crucial steps toward restoring your immune system's proper function and, in turn, reduce the frequency and severity of autoimmune rashes and other symptoms. (Source)
A key component in reversing autoimmune rashes naturally is adopting a healthier diet and making conscious lifestyle adjustments to reduce overall inflammation. Certain foods are known to exacerbate inflammation, while others can help reduce it. By identifying and eliminating dietary inflammatory triggers, you may be able to start alleviating the symptoms associated with autoimmune rashes.
A crucial aspect of managing and reversing autoimmune rashes is understanding the effect of food on these conditions. The food you consume can directly affect your immune system, either promoting or reducing inflammation in your body. By identifying and eliminating inflammatory triggers and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can create a more supportive environment for your immune system to function optimally.
In addition to diet, lifestyle changes such as managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in regular physical activity can significantly affect your body's ability to heal itself. These factors work together to create a supportive environment for your immune system, fostering balance and reducing the likelihood of autoimmune flare-ups. (Source)
Consuming certain pro-inflammatory foods may worsen autoimmune rashes and other symptoms by triggering or exacerbating inflammation in the body. (Source)
Common inflammatory foods it may help you to avoid include the following.
Found in wheat, barley, and rye, gluten is a protein that can trigger an inflammatory response in those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, and may contribute to inflammation in some autoimmune conditions.
Some people are sensitive to proteins such as casein and whey that are found in dairy products, and that sensitivity may contribute to inflammation and exacerbate autoimmune rashes.
High consumption of refined sugars can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, promoting inflammation and worsening autoimmune symptoms.
Foods high in trans fats, artificial additives, and preservatives can contribute to inflammation and negatively affect the immune system.
In contrast to inflammatory foods, anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation in your body and support your immune system.
It's important to be mindful of histamine levels in your food to minimize the risk of triggering a flare-up. Histamine friendly foods can be incredibly beneficial for those living with an autoimmune rash and may help reduce inflammation as well as redness, itching, and discomfort associated with the condition. (Source)
By incorporating low histamine foods into your diet, you can not only manage symptoms but improve your digestion and health of your gut, which is where histamine intolerance begins. Some anti-inflammatory, histamine-friendly foods follow.
Rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients, fruits and vegetables can help combat inflammation and lower histamine levels due to their high quercetin content. Quercetin is an antioxidant that fights inflammation and is especially useful for histamine intolerance. Produce that is particularly rich in quercetin includes apples, onions, grapes, cherries, and berries. (Source)
Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, balance healthy histamine levels, and support immune function. These foods include avocados, olive oil, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseeds, to name a few. (Source)
By making mindful food choices, you can directly influence the expression of autoimmune rashes and support your immune system in maintaining balance. In the next section, we'll explore the lifestyle changes that can further help reverse autoimmune rashes. (Source)
In addition to addressing autoimmune rash with dietary choices, attention to lifestyle factors can make a difference in reducing inflammation and promoting skin health.
Many personal care and household items contain chemicals that can irritate the skin, disrupt the endocrine system, increase free radical exposure, or promote inflammation. To minimize the risk of exacerbating autoimmune rashes or truly any skin irritation in general, it's important to be aware of the ingredients in the products you use daily. Laundry detergents, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, household cleaners, deodorants, toothpastes, and perfumes may often contain chemicals that could contribute to inflammation and skin irritation. (Source, Source)
Some potentially inflammatory ingredients to watch out for include:
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent that has the potential to irritate already compromised skin and could exacerbate autoimmune rashes. (Source)
Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been linked to hormone disruption and may contribute to inflammation. (Source)
Used in a wide range of products, including fragrances and plastics, phthalates have been associated with endocrine disruption and adverse health effects. (Source)
Artificial scents can cause skin irritation and allergies, worsening autoimmune rashes in sensitive individuals. (Source)
To reduce the risk of irritation and inflammation associated with toxic ingredients, consider switching to non-toxic alternatives for your personal care and household products. You can either purchase items from brands that prioritize natural, non-toxic ingredients, or try your hand at making your own DIY versions. By making these lifestyle changes, you can reduce your exposure to harmful substances and create a healthier environment for your skin and immune system. (Source)
You can find non-toxic alternatives of the following items with the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living App.
Look for plant-based, fragrance-free options, or try making your own detergent using ingredients such as castile soap, washing soda, and baking soda.
Opt for sulfate-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free products, or experiment with natural alternatives such as apple cider vinegar rinses and coconut oil.
Replace harsh cleaners with gentler options such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, which can be just as effective for cleaning and disinfecting.
Seek out deodorants, toothpastes, and soaps made with natural ingredients, or try making your own with simple ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils.
In addition to dietary and lifestyle changes, incorporating supplements and herbs into your daily routine can be an effective way to support your immune system and promote skin health in the context of autoimmune rashes. Supplements and herbs can provide essential nutrients and compounds that work to enhance the immune system's function and support the body's natural healing processes by:
Some medicinal herbs and supplements that may be helpful taken internally or topically to calm and possibly reverse autoimmune rash may include:
When incorporating supplements and herbs into your routine, keep in mind that individual needs may vary. It's always a good idea to consult with a health care professional or a qualified herbalist to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Some general guidelines for supplements and herbs include:
In the face of discomfort and irritation, it's tempting to turn to quick fixes such as antihistamines or corticosteroids to provide some relief. While these medications can provide temporary relief, they often fail to address the root cause of the problem. By adopting a holistic approach to healing, you can tackle your autoimmune rashes at the source, promoting long-term wellness and reducing the need for symptom management. By understanding and addressing the underlying causes of your autoimmune rash, you'll be well on your way to a healthier, more comfortable life. (Source)
Healing autoimmune rashes naturally involves a multidimensional approach that addresses dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Making mindful choices in diet and personal and household products can reduce your daily exposure to inflammatory agents. When appropriate, targeted supplements and herbs can help create a supportive environment for your immune system’s optimal function and may potentially reverse autoimmune rashes.
By focusing on the root causes of these autoimmune rashes and promoting overall health and well-being with diet and lifestyle choices, you can empower your body to heal itself and maintain a state of balance for the long term. If you’re not sure how to improve your health with a food first approach, the Nutritional Therapy Practitioners at WellTheory can help. With a personalized approach and gentle guidance and education, our WellTheory membership can take the guesswork out of your diet and tailor a plan that is unique to your needs and circumstances.
Lycopene is the phytochemical that gives fruits and vegetables their red color. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from oxidative stress. Lycopene has also been found to decrease “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Lycopene may also protect the skin against ultraviolet (UV) damage from the sun. One small study found that participants who added 16milligrams of lycopene to their diet every day had less severe skin reactions to UV light over 10 weeks than a control group without the added lycopene. (Of course, consumption of lycopene-rich foods doesn’t replace sunscreen!)
Carotenoids are responsible for yellow, orange, and red color in many fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that one carotenoid in particular, beta-carotene, may protect against decline in lung function. A study done in 2017 also suggested that eating fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene ,and beta-cryptoxanth in had protective effects against lung cancer.
Like lycopene, dietary intake of beta-carotene has protective effects against diseases that are mediated by oxidative stress, such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. High levels of alpha carotene are associated with longevity — one large U.S. study found that high levels of alpha-carotene in the blood were linked with a reduced risk of death over a 14 year period. Aside from its antioxidant effects, the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin may prevent bone loss and may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are also part of the carotenoid family, along with beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only dietary carotenoids that reach the retina, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside on the back of the eye. They are known to support eye health and have preventative effects against age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that can lead to the loss of vision as we age. However, lutein and zeaxanthin also have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Zeaxanthin can also help to recycle glutathione, another important antioxidant in the body. (9, 15)
Dark green, leafy cruciferous vegetables are a good source of sulfur (isocyanate, sulforaphane, glucosinolate). Our body needs sulfur in order to synthesize certain essential proteins. These sulfur compounds break down into isothiocyanates and indoles in the gut, which are known to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. (36, 52, 33)
Research suggests that sulforaphane may support heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. It may also have antidiabetic effects. One study found that sulforaphane reduced fasting blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. (55, 41, 47)
Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate that’s found in some cruciferous vegetables, has been found to protect the blood–brain barrier in mice with induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (used to study MS, which can’t be induced in the same way), suggesting it may reduce the risk of developing MS. (16, 40)
Anthocyanins are phytochemicals that give red, blue, and purple plants their vibrant coloring. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that may boost heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular-related and other chronic diseases. (26)
Anthocyanin-rich foods have been linked to reductions in inflammation and reduced blood sugar concentrations, suggesting they may also have antidiabetic effects. Anthocyanins have also been found to protect eye health. One study found that daily supplementation with pharmaceutical anthocyanins improved the visual function of individuals with normal tension glaucoma (where the optic nerve is damaged despite pressure in the eye being normal). (30, 43)
Other phytochemicals called stilbenoids are typically found in grapes and blueberries. Like anthocyanins, stilbenoids have been shown to have a variety of benefits such as protective effects on the heart and brain, as well as antidiabetic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. (4)
Allicin, a phytochemical produced when garlic is chopped or crushed, has been associated with a lower risk of coronary events in older adults. Research suggests allicin may help reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels when consumed for more than 2 months. (8, 39)
Garlic is well known for its antimicrobial effects and has historically been used to combat infectious diseases. It is also known to be effective against a variety of bacteria, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. (8)
Another phytonutrient that is found in many white, tan, and brown foods is quercetin. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may be effective against obesity, cancer, viruses, allergies, and high blood pressure. (5)
Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are a biomarker of inflammation in the body. High CRP levels are associated with heart disease, obesity, and lupus. One study done in 2008 found that the intake of foods rich in flavonoids, such as quercetin, is associated with lower serum CRP concentrations. (12)
The thousands of phytochemicals produced by plants for their own protection may also help prevent and treat many of our own medical conditions and diseases. Phytonutrients give fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and other plant foods their variety of colors, so “eat the rainbow” to maximize the health benefits offered by these plentiful chemical compounds.