I'm 27, male, 165 lbs, 5'11". I've been paleo for about 1.5 years, and I generally don't have much trouble being relatively strict about it (i.e. 30-75 g carbs daily, no junk food, zero gluten, minimal nightshades, no dairy). I eat quite a bit of meat (mostly grass-fed), eggs, coconut oil, ghee, and some sweet potatoes post-workout. I'm pretty fit in general. I supplement with 5k-10k IU vitamin D3 and 50 mg zinc daily. I've tried fish oil, but it seems to increase my acne.
Well, here's my troublesome situation: I have noticed in the past few months or so that I often get what looks like raised welts on my arms or legs from contact with seemingly innocuous everyday things (e.g. after carrying a box, I would get them on my arm); raised chicken-skin white bumps on my arms (keratosis pilaris, I presume?) that have recently become more prominent; itchy raised rash bumps on my arms and sometimes legs that last for a few hours; acne on my back and oily facial skin; and some pervasive hair loss with peculiar hair shaft symptoms consistent with alopecia areata, which is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder.
I had my C-reactive protein checked not long ago: My level was <0.10, which is significantly below the baseline of <0.80 mg/dL.
Could my problems simply be beyond the help of a healthy diet and lifestyle? I feel like I've gone through the paleo checklist of possible causes. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
CRP is not gonna demonstrate whether you have an autoimmune disorder or not. It's not specific enough and could only be elevated in the middle of an autoimmune flare. Plus, according to Wiki, there is no antibody test for Alopecia Areata. Do you have a history of autoimmune diseases in your family or among your relatives? Any reason for avoiding dairy and nightshades? What's your health history like?
I would go see a dermatologist and mention possible signs of Alopecia Areata. If he isn't sure, he should be able to reach out to his network and find someone specializing in that area. If you're by yourself, I would experiment with adding more starch to my diet. I had all kinds of dry, peeling, thinning, and scaly skin problems when I was ketogenic. You'd be ketogenic at 30g carbs daily. I would also go a bit easy on zinc and take 50mg every other day.
Julianne brought some good issues. Some ideas:
What are your other blood #s - glucose, TSH, etc?
1) Perhaps some supplementation - Vitamin C or 1 fruit a day? Iodine if thyroid seems hypo (or going that direction),
2) Any seafood allergies? Wild or farm-raised seafood?
3) Any egg or nut allergies? You may want to try elimination with these variables: eggs, nuts, and seeds. Many tree nuts are cross-contaminated with peanut so check that too. Robb Wolf's autoimmune protocol includes also testing elimination of nightshades. Part of this system is eating primarily cooked vegetables (reduces anti-nutrients) and not eating skins of yams/sweet potato.
4) Any detergent or soap ingredient change (sometimes the manufacturers change without telling you)?
Gluten-free Savonnerie makes shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, shaving foam, bar/liquid soap, lip balm, and lotion that is FREE of corn, gluten, casein, soy, dyes, peanuts, and fragrances. They make good travel products too. Some very sensitive people claim that they had to remove this allergens not just out of food but from personal products as well! http://www.gfsoap.com/
The Crystal unscented deodorant also is free of most allergens and recommended for cancer patients. http://www.thecrystal.com/#
US Wellness makes an amazing beef tallow bar soap.
Tide free detergent is free of gluten and soy.
5) What grains and legumes are you eating (when you cheat?) - any possibility they are cross-contaminated with gluten? Same goes for spices.
6) Have you been to a dermatologist for any diagnosis? I hope I don't get voted down for this - but sometimes conventional allergy testing or a lab like Cyrex might give you some ideas.
7) Play with carb intake - titrate slowly up with safe starches.
8) Coconut allergy? - test elimination and see Paleohacks posts on this!
My husband's back acne, hives, and other symptoms flare up if he's cross-contaminated with gluten.
Inflammatory skin diseases are the most common problem in dermatology. They come in many forms, from occasional rashes accompanied by skin itching and redness, to chronic conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Skin inflammation can be characterized as acute or chronic. Acute inflammation can result from exposure to UV radiation (UVR), ionizing radiation, allergens, or to contact with chemical irritants (soaps, hair dyes, etc.). This type of inflammation is typically resolved within 1 to 2 weeks with little accompanying tissue destruction. In contrast, chronic inflammation results from a sustained immune cell mediated inflammatory response within the skin itself. This inflammation is long lasting and can cause significant and serious tissue destruction.