049: Why Are My Skin Rashes Making Me So Tired?

Living with skin rashes is exhausting. And it’s even worse if you struggle to sleep well through the night because of awful scratching (that wakes you up)!

Before you assume that you’ve got something called adrenal fatigue, take a listen to today’s podcast where I explain why it’s likely NOT your adrenals.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

When you take a look at your fatigue puzzle from a different perspective, it forces you to address how energy is made in your body. When it’s not produced efficiently, you end up with lots of symptoms (that mirror adrenal fatigue) AND skin problems.

Poor energy status is absolutely a root cause that must be ruled out!

In this episode:

  • Hidden root causes reason you are so tired (and have skin rashes)
  • Why your adrenals don’t actually make energy
  • Nutrients necessary to make energy (also known as ATP)
  • Symptoms to help you figure out if it is your mitochondria
  • How to test to see if you need to support your body’s energy generation


“There’s a much deeper reason that often drives fatigue than not sleeping well or the stress from scratching and unwanted glares. It underlies issues that you may or may not have with your adrenals. It has to do with the most basic biochemical way your body makes energy in the first place.”

“Everyone thinks that they have adrenal fatigue (more appropriately called HPA Axis dysregulation). But this is an over “diagnosed” issue and does more disservice than good because the adrenals don’t make energy. Your mitochondria do. If you don’t pay attention to them, there’s no amount of adrenal support that will give you back your energy.”

Sleeping cat


Welcome back to Episode #49 of the Healthy Skin Show!

Today I want to talk about fatigue — which is a very common complaint that clients have — and how it can play a role in your skin problems.

You’re probably familiar with being tired or even the term adrenal fatigue, but the truth is that fatigue is so much more than both of those things.

In fact, there’s a much deeper reason that often drives fatigue than just not sleeping well or the stress from scratching and unwanted glares.

It underlies issues that you may or may not have with your adrenals even if you can check off every symptom of adrenal fatigue (that’s more correctly known as HPA Axis dysregulation).

And it has to do with the most basic biochemical way your body makes energy in the first place.

This is critical because if you can’t efficiently produce energy, then not only will you feel tired, but your body won’t have its necessary energy to rebuild healthier skin.

You cannot fix this problem by eating sugar or consuming caffeine either.

For me to help you understand what’s going on, we need to journey back to high school biology.

Don’t worry… I’ll keep this super simple without boring you!

Close up view of mitochondria

How Your Body Makes Energy

Despite what you may have read (and heard) online, your adrenals don’t make energy.

What actually creates energy is little power plants of every cell called Mitochondria.

These power plants exist in many of the cells of your body, but are heavily concentrated in muscle tissue (especially your heart), liver, and brain (because they require so much energy to function properly).

Mitochondria generate your body’s most basic energy currency. They do this by “burning” fat (lipids) and carbs (though on occasion this process can be supported with a few amino acids).

I like to describe the process as a water wheel with two shoots (one that feeds in carbs and the other that feeds in fats). As the water wheel turns and things head toward the final stage (known as Oxidative Phosphorylation), lots of energy is created.

All of the energy is more officially known as Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP, for short). You can think of a single molecule of ATP as a coin, okay?

These “energy coins” are necessary for life itself and certain biochemical reactions require more of them than others. Without ATP, you will feel tired.

So to recap, your power plants burn fats and carbs through a water wheel-like process that ultimately spits out “energy coins” that are used for lots of processes all throughout your body. And this is how you make energy at the most basic level.

Power plant at night

What Happens When You’re Tired

In a perfect world and with plenty of raw ingredients, your mitochondria hum along making lots of energy for your body to use.

But when things start to go sideways, your power plants start to function less efficiently.

This can happen as the result of poor nutrient status even if you take supplements that can be due…

  • Poor eating habits (ie. restrictive elimination diets that aren’t warranted for a long period of time)
  • Low stomach acid
  • Poor nutrient absorption
  • Gut infections
  • Leaky gut and gut inflammation
  • Certain medications that cause nutrient depletions (like statins, SSRIs, heartburn medication)
  • Autoimmunity
  • Disruptions to gut transit time (meaning you lean more towards diarrhea and nutrients are just running through you)
  • Excessive levels of stress that aren’t properly managed

So having sufficient nutrients is one of the key factors here that you CAN control.

These necessary nutrients to make ATP include:

  • Thiamin
  • Carnitine
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • vitamin B5
  • Iron
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • CoQ10

If you’re low or straight-up deficient in one or more of these nutrients, your power plants start operating a lot more like smoggy, polluting factories.

They can’t produce those energy coins efficiently AND they also spit out a lot of free radicals.

Imagine a dirty, old power plant.

The grass around it is all brown. The stream running nearby is fluorescent orange.

And the bunnies hopping around have 5 eyes.

You get the picture!

This scenario isn’t good for your energy levels. It’s highly stressful for your cells.

And it’s really difficult for your body in general to do all of the things it needs to do to be healthy… including rebuild healthy skin!

Piggy bank with sunglasses on a beach vacation

But wait… What Do My Adrenals Do?

I know this sounds a bit confusing because for years we’ve been told that if you’re tired, it must be your adrenals!

Everyone thinks that they have adrenal fatigue (aka. HPA Axis dysregulation).

But I frankly think that this is an over “diagnosed” issue and does more disservice than good because the adrenals don’t make energy.

If you had a piggy bank as a kid with all your coins saved up in it, you might remember an experience of your mom or dad saying…

“Hey, so I know you want to spend everything in your piggy bank at the candy store today. But you can only use $2 on candy. The rest stays in the bank.”

The stern parent in that scenario is like your adrenals. While the coins in the bank are your ATP!

So the role of your adrenals is more about deciding how you spend the energy coins you have available to you.

Obviously, that’s based on whether it’s a normal day or you’re experiencing a serious stressor that your body likens to being chased by a tiger.

Does that make sense?

And if you’ve been taking an adrenal support supplement, but found it to be of little help alleviating your fatigue, it’s time to take a look at your mitochondrial function.

Mitochondrial insufficiency is a serious issue for about 80% of my clients.

By filling up those wells, you can make a lot of headway on not just transforming your energy, but also your skin (and many other things as well)!

Tired woman in bus stop

Symptoms That Mean Your Mitochondria Need Attention

When your power plants aren’t operating well, you will notice a variety of symptoms.

Yes, there is a lot of overlap here with Adrenal Fatigue (which is why it can be easy to confuse them).

Not making enough ATP (energy coins) can contribute to… (2)

  • Skin rashes
  • Slower cellular turnover
  • Slower biochemical reactions
  • Inability to efficiently recycle Glutathione (an important antioxidant)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Mood issues
  • Effects on various autoimmune diseases
  • Ongoing gut issues
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Heart issues (especially if you’re on a statin that depletes Coenzyme Q10)

Again if you have these symptoms, it’s time to take a serious look at what’s going on with your mitochondria.

You need ATP… otherwise, your body doesn’t have the energy to do what it needs to in order to thrive!

Tubes of blood for blood test

How To Figure Out If Your Mitochondria Need Help

I’m sure you’re wondering the best way to figure out what’s going on!

If you’re curious to better understand how efficiently your power plants are generating ATP, the best way to test this is a combination of urine and blood testing.

The first critical piece is to get an Organic Acid Profile test done which looks at the acids released through urine.

It’s an at-home test that gives A TON of information about nutrient status and specifically looks at those critical nutrients I mentioned already.

If you’re interested in ordering this test, you can do so HERE. (Click on “Order Tests” and scroll down and choose the “Organix® Comprehensive Profile – Urine-Genova Kit”.)

Just a word of advice about the results of this test — they are not easy to understand because this is a lab meant to be reviewed by a functional practitioner. If you need help understanding the results and what to do, let me know!

Second, you need to get your serum Vitamin B12 level checked.

The reason is that mitochondrial supplements to “fill the wells back up” either have no B12 or high doses of it.

Since more is not always better, it’s really important to check what your B12 level is to know what the best formula for you would be.

→ If you’re interested in other labs to help with your skin, CLICK HERE.

You should begin to see an improvement in symptoms in about 3 to 4 weeks that will then continue to improve as your wells are refilled. How long you need a supplement to support your mitochondria depends on a number of factors, but expect that you may need it for at least 3 to 4 months.

I hope that I’ve made what can be a very complicated topic more digestible for you!

As you probably know by now, your unique combination of root causes is critical to figure out if you really want to get to the bottom of what’s driving the flares and rashes.

And THIS can (and often is) a piece of the puzzle especially if you’ve had rashes for a long time!

If you’ve got any questions or comments, head over to this episode’s post to share your thoughts and keep the conversation going!

Also, I’ve posted the lists of nutrients, symptoms, and testing in the show notes for this episode so that you can easily find them!

In the meantime, please please please — rate and review the Healthy Skin Show on your podcast platform of choice.

And share this episode with someone you know who is seeking answers beyond the steroid creams! You never know how you could change the course of someone’s experience with their rashes simply by sharing a link to the show in a Facebook group or emailing them.

I appreciate you for tuning in as our movement to get answers and find freedom from rashes grows!

Have a fantastic day and I look forward to seeing you the next time!


  1. Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root cause of many diseases. ScienceDaily. January 26, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170126093255.htm
  2. Nicolson GL. Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease: Treatment With Natural Supplements. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. 2014;13(4):35-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566449/

“There’s a much deeper reason that often drives fatigue than not sleeping well or the stress from scratching and unwanted glares. It underlies issues that you may or may not have with your adrenals. It has to do with the most basic biochemical way your body makes energy in the first place.”

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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