While inflammation is often thought of us an internal problem, it’s often possible to spot signs of inflammation externally, in the form of acne, rashes, and swelling — among other things. “The skin is our largest organ and its relatively rapid cell turnover makes it a window to our overall health,” Kristin Koskinen, RDN, LD, CD, a registered dietitian nutritionist, tells Bustle. So even though these symptoms may seem minor, try not to ignore them.
Do keep in mind, however, that not all inflammation is created equally. And not all inflammation is bad. “Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection and in acute situations, is a necessary part of the healing process,” Koskinen says. “However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it becomes the source of diseases often related to aging, including diabetes, heart disease … and Alzheimer’s disease.”
If you notice signs of inflammation, let your doctor know so they can look into the underlying cause. And, consider making a few lifestyle changes. “Eat a variety of anti-inflammatory foods, such as those high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, teas, sea vegetables, [and] wild-caught fish,” Dr. Josh Axe, CNM, CNS, DC tells Bustle. “Foods high in antioxidants help to reduce damage caused by inflammation by providing phytonutrients like vitamin C and E, curcumin, flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and reservatrol.”
It also never hurts to reduce your stress levels, get more rest, and follow up with your doctor if you’re still having symptoms. Here are few external signs of internal inflammation, according to experts.
While acne can be caused by clogged pores, excess sebum, and bacteria, “one of the key triggers of acne is inflammation,” board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD tells Bustle. “Specifically acne rosacea and painful cystic acne are the types that present with stress and hormone-induced inflammation.”
For this type of acne to go away, it’s often necessary to treat it internally, as well as externally. “Management includes antibiotics, retinoids, and hormonal regulation, when applicable,” Dr. Shainhouse says.