10 Things Your Skin Says About Your Health

A woman examines her skin health in the mirror, and applies moisturizer

Did you know: your skin is your largest organ? Because it’s easily visible, your skin can give clues about underlying conditions and health issues. Since skin connects to so many other systems in your body, any visual changes can be the first sign that something else is going on below the surface. Below are 10 clues that your skin can show you about your health, and what they could mean.

Breakouts on jawline and chin

If you regularly have acne on the lower portion of your face, especially the jawline and chin, the cause is likely hormonal. For many women, this occurs along with a fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone on a monthly cycle. In some cases, hormonal acne can point to more serious hormone imbalances, or even thyroid issues. If your breakouts don’t respond to topical treatment, it’s a good idea to speak to a dermatologist or doctor. They can then investigate any of these more serious issues.

Dark under eye circles

Lack of sleep, smoking and alcohol consumption, ageing, genetics, and allergies can all contribute to the appearance of dark under eye circles. Aside from these factors, dark eye circles can also suggest an iron deficiency or anemia. Women are especially susceptible to being iron deficient. If you have other symptoms of iron deficiency (including dizziness and fatigue), consider following up with your doctor.

Unexplained darkening of skin

Melanin occurs naturally in your body and acts as pigmentation for your skin. Your skin gets darker from spending time in the sun, which promotes melanin production. If you notice your skin is darkening without explanation, it could point to pregnancy or Addison’s disease. Though rare, Addison’s disease can be serious. A deficiency in hormones is the cause of this disease. Speak to your doctor about a diagnosis and treatment plan for Addison’s.

Excessive sweating

Sweating is a natural function of the body. When your sweat glands release fluids, the process helps manage your body temperature. If you find that you are sweating excessively, and are sensitive to heat, this could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland produces an excess of the hormone thyroxine. If you have any other symptoms of hyperthyroidism along with excessive sweating, you could be at risk for this disease. Read more about symptoms and managing thyroid health here.

Flaky scalp

Dandruff, or flaky white skin on your scalp, can be itchy and annoying. Though there are a few different causes of dandruff (allergies, dryness, or fungal infection), it is usually easily treated. If you have persistent flakiness on your scalp, especially if it is scaly, it could indicate the autoimmune disease psoriasis. Psoriasis can also cause redness, pain, and show up on other areas of your body. If you suspect that you may have psoriasis, your doctor can order testing to give you a clear diagnosis. From here, they can prescribe treatment for you.

Dry or chapped lips 

Chapped lips are uncomfortable, and can look like dryness, cracks, flaking, and even bleeding. Chronic chapped lips can be due to weather conditions or allergies, but there are other possible reasons your lips aren’t able to heal. Cheilitis is a condition associated with chronic illnesses, and often causes chronic chapped lips. In this case, your doctor would be best to get to the root of what could be causing cheilitis. Other causes for chronic chapped lips that should be considered by your doctor are vitamin deficiencies and dehydration.

Cuts that won’t heal

If you notice that cuts on your skin won’t heal, this could point to more serious underlying conditions. Although a cut may scab over, if it remains a scab, that is a sign that your skin isn’t healing itself. A common cause of cuts that won’t heal is diabetes. If you aren’t diagnosed with diabetes and notice that your cuts won’t heal, it is a good idea to follow up with your doctor to see if you could be at risk. Other possibilities that your doctor can investigate include blood clotting disorders and skin cancers.

Yellowing of skin

Many people are familiar with a baby’s risk of jaundice, but the condition can happen in adults too. Jaundice, or the yellowing of skin, is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin, which is created by the liver and appears in bile. If you notice an unexplained yellowing of your skin, there are many potential causes. Some of the most common include hepatitis, mono, gallstones, and drinking too much alcohol. Your doctor can also order further testing to rule out more serious conditions such as gallbladder cancer or a pancreatic tumor. It is important to speak with your doctor if you suspect you may have jaundice. It can often be an easily treatable infection, but if left untreated it could be more serious for your health.

Dry, itchy skin

If you have chronic dry and itchy skin, especially if it’s accompanied by redness, you may have eczema. Eczema can have many different causes, but it is not easily treatable without getting help from a dermatologist or doctor. Some of the most common causes of eczema are food allergies, sensitivities to chemicals such as detergents or chlorine from pools, genetics, immune system issues, and stress. If you are experiencing what you suspect is eczema, speak to your doctor who can help identify the best method of treatment. They can also help you get to the bottom of what may be causing the condition.

Red bumps on your face

Tiny red bumps on your face, especially on your nose, cheeks and forehead, could indicate rosacea. Rosacea is a common skin condition that is categorized into four different types. Though each type differs slightly, many of the causes are the same. Some of these include things that can be easily avoided such as spicy foods or hot coffee and tea. Other causes can be more serious for your health, such as the presence of certain bacteria or skin mites. To rule out a more serious cause, it’s best to speak to your dermatologist or doctor if you suspect you may have rosacea.

The bottom line

Your skin can say a lot about your overall health! If you’re concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, be sure to speak to your dermatologist or doctor. They can help treat any symptoms you have, and dig deeper into the root causes to help you manage your overall health.

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