284: How to Find a Knowledgeable Integrative Practitioner For Skin Rash Problems

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If working with an alternative medicine or integrative practitioner on your skin problems has been on your wish list, you must listen to this!

Hopefully you’ll find this episode before you commit to working with anyone because the process of finding an integrative or alternative “skin rash-literate” practitioner isn’t as simple as it may seem.

That’s because addressing chronic skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, chronic hives, dermatographia and even topical steroid withdrawal is a specialty.

But functional trainings often lump them all in with gut + autoimmune problems – often treating them as if they were solely a gut problem.

HINT HINT – they’re not JUST a gut problem.

So let’s talk about why you can’t just look for any integrative or functional provider AND what you can do to vet those whom you’re considering working with!

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In this episode:

  • Why you can’t just look for a functional or integrative practitioner and assume they are “skin problem” literate
  • Being integrative is a spectrum
  • Problems with functional medicine for chronic skin issues
  • Suggestions on finding a knowledgeable practitioner


If you have a history of disordered eating or eating disorders, ask if they would still use elimination diets in your case.

Because functional medicine does not teach anything about topical steroid withdrawal, your practitioner will likely assume you have severe eczema.


Integrative practitioner using iPad284: How to Find a Knowledgeable Integrative Practitioner For Skin Rash Problems (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #284 of the Healthy Skin Show!

I’m often asked by listeners, Instagram followers, and even within my Skin Rash Rebuild group community how to find an integrative practitioner.

That is pretty easy.

What makes it more complicated is finding one who is knowledgeable about chronic skin issues, so I figured I’d address this today!

Because the second piece of this question is what unfortunately makes things all the more complicated.

I personally + professionally understand the necessity of finding someone who is “skin rash-literate” since it can make a huge difference in your case.

So let’s dive in!


Woman warning people before they find an Integrative Practitioner

Before You Find An Integrative Practitioner…

Before you go looking for an integrative practitioner, I need to be honest with you.

The term “integrative” is not an officially coined term defining how a practitioner actually practices.

It’s more of a spectrum.

I say that because there are some practitioners who call themselves integrative and are more “open-minded”, but not very knowledgeable about non-medication options + do not use any integrative strategies in their practice.

While others on the other end of the spectrum like myself, are not only open-minded, but regularly utilize strategies that you’d call “functional” or “integrative”. And we are adjusting to new research while also thinking outside of the box for new approaches that might improve clinical outcomes.

There’s a big difference between each side of this spectrum that could impact your care especially if you’re expecting a very integrative perspective only to discover they don’t actually put anything integrative into practice.

This has been illustrated to me many times by listeners of the Healthy Skin Show.

They hear a particular doctor or expert on the show assuming that they must be really integrative only to discover that the dermatologist, for example, whom they saw never uses anything more than standard medications in their practice.

While I do my best to present research + integrative ideas, unfortunately not all the guests on the show actually practice in an integrative fashion.

It’s something I cannot control.

My guest list isn’t a database of all super open-minded, integrative-practicing practitioners and doctors knowledgeable about skin problems.

If it were, the list of guests would be EXTREMELY small.

So it’s one thing to keep in mind!


Functional Practitioner

A Word About Functional Practitioners…

Now a word about practitioners who label themselves as “functional” or who are even certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

While yes, a functional approach is a more clear-cut term compared to “integrative”, you should be aware that the programs that teach about functional medicine do not offer specific coursework that would make them knowledgeable on a functional approach to solving skin problems.

IFM and most functional programs out there that I’m familiar with generally consider skin problems like what I discuss here on the show to fall under autoimmunity.

And as such, they approach addressing them with a very gut-focused approach which often doesn’t get results or can make things worse, unfortunately.

There are certainly some functional practitioners out there who are extremely knowledgeable about certain chronic skin conditions + have a lot of experience working with them.

But generally speaking, you should be cautious of assuming that being “functional” or even being certified through IFM means that the practitioner specifically knows + understands the complexity of chronic skin problems.

While yes, chronic skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, hives + dermatographia typically have a gut component, they are not 100% a gut problem.

What complicates matters is that the way you “read” a stool test for a chronic skin problem is very different compared to a gut problem or autoimmunity case. This is not something that’s taught… only insights that many of us versed in chronic skin issues have learned through clinical experience.

And chronic skin cases often do not respond the way practitioners think that they will by using elimination diets either – as diet restrictions are typically the first step in the functional model.

It’s not uncommon for elimination diets to actually make rashes worse which can leave a practitioner assuming you didn’t try hard enough or you need to eliminate more foods.

And functional medicine does not teach anything about topical steroid withdrawal (TSW).

In fact, I’d bet that they’d just as quickly tell you that you have severe eczema missing all of the signs and symptoms associated with TSW.

The only true training that will teach an integrative approach to chronic skin issues launching in 2023 is with Dr. Julie Greenberg (who’s been on the Healthy Skin Show a number of times).

It is for licensed practitioners only + is quite intense, offering the education to practice the way that I and a few others actually practice.


Woman thinking about how to find an integrative practitioner

How Do I Find Skin Rash-Literate Integrative Practitioner

So now you can see why I said that finding a skin problem-literate integrative practitioner isn’t so simple.

You can certainly use the Healthy Skin Show guests as a place to start, but ultimately it is up to you to vet the practitioner or physician.

That may include following them on social media + interacting with their account to see what they are open to as well as what they are not.

And consider their approach + attitude toward health and healing.

Is it focused on helping you find normalcy + taking practical steps?

OR focused on fear-based education about what not to do or eat all of the time that might not be the right approach for you.

Many people end up in my virtual practice because they are tired of the unending elimination diet approach to solving their skin problems. And they discover that their personal approach of practicality meshes with mine!

It’s okay to ask what type of “tools” they use in their practice such as lifestyle modifications, medication, herbs or botanical agents, nutritional supplements + diet modification.

Also, ask their front desk staff what type of approach they use + inquire about how they work with clients or patients.

Consider their scope of practice as well so that your practitioner can do what it is that you’re looking for. As an example, health coaches are not allowed within their scope of practice to order or review any labs whatsoever, create protocols, recommend supplements or any sort of elimination diet, or create meal plans.

You can ask if the practitioner is familiar with stool testing (or some sort of other functional testing that you’re interested in) and do they commonly recommend herbs or only rely on medications to address any issues or imbalances found.

I would highly encourage you to ask about their training + background in using diet + nutrition in practice. It’s okay to ask if they have any degrees or certifications in nutrition, especially since this is not something physicians specifically get much training in when they were in medical school, nor is it something that’s within the scope of practice for a health coach.

And if you have a history of disordered eating or eating disorders AND you aren’t comfortable doing elimination diets, ask them upfront if they would still recommend an elimination diet to you despite your history.

As for their knowledge base for using labs + functional testing to help you, that’s a bit tricky.

Some practitioners get a ton of training in this area! During my masters, we learned from experts (some of whom developed the actual labs) to combine both conventional + functional labs – and I continue to do trainings + research into using these labs to this day!

While others don’t get much or any training, and instead rely on the functional lab companies themselves to discuss your test results which provide the practitioner with rather generic recommendations for your results. You should be aware that these lab consultations do not include an in-depth review of your case.

And lastly, ask where a practitioner practices!

The scope of practice and state laws will determine where different types of practitioners can practice. Some must see you in person at least once, while others (like myself) work entirely virtual.

Thanks to COVID, there are more options available online now more than ever! This makes it much easier for you to find someone to work with if you live in a rural area or somewhere that doesn’t offer many integrative options… or even that specific health focus you’re looking for.

I know this is a lot, but it’s the best way to vet a practitioner.

And for someone dealing with chronic skin issues who is likely listening to this episode, it will involve more work to find the right practitioner with the right approach for you.

Because having a focus on chronic skin issues is truly a specialty.

It’s impossible to know everything about everything, right?

So when I get requests from potential clients who have issues that I do not focus on like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or PCOS (and obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list), I refer them to practitioners who do specialize in those areas.

Because that’s ultimately what is best for them!

I hope this episode offers clarity on what you need to look for so that you hopefully find the right person to support you on your journey.

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts to share about this, leave a comment below so I can address them.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to digging deeper with you in the next episode!

If you have a history of disordered eating or eating disorders, ask if they would still use elimination diets in your case.