6 Things Your Skin Can Reveal About Your Health

by Carina Wolff
Anna Webber/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Anyone who has ever suffered an unexpected breakout or a pesky patch of dryness understands how sensitive our skin can be. Although much of the time we happen to focus on its aesthetics, your skin can reveal important things about your health, and not just if you need some moisturizer. Considering we can't always see what's going on inside of our bodies, it's important we pay to attention to the outside physical signs we receive when something might be wrong internally.

"The skin is the main external organ of the body, and it communicates and protects our inner organs," says dermatologist Tanya Kormeili, MD to Bustle over email. "The skin can be a clue to many internal organ diseases including liver disease, certain rashes in the groin, or even breast cancer."

Not every skin issue is necessarily a serious illness that should have you running to the ER (sometimes a pimple is just a pimple), but other times our issues skin can indicate problems with other parts of our bodies, and it's important to be aware of what signs to look out for. If you feel like your skin is trying to tell you something, consider these six unsuspecting things your skin can reveal about your health.

1. Crow's Feet Around The Eyes

Also known as "laugh lines," crow's feet can be a sign that your vision may need some checking. "If you have crow's feet around the eyes, you may be squinting too much and either need eyeglasses, or sunglasses if you're driving during peak sun hours," says Kormeli.

2. Darkening Around The Neck Or Armpits

"Acanthosis Nigricans, or darkening around the neck or armpits, can be associated with diabetes or thyroid conditions," says Kormeli. The skin pigmentation disorder frequently occurs in body folds and creases, and it is common in people at risk for type-2 diabetes.

3. Very Pale Skin

If your skin has recently become noticeably pale, it may be an indication that you have chronic anemia, one of the most common causes of paleness. Anemia, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells, can be caused by low intake of iron, folate, and vitamin B12, but it is possible it is also genetic.

4. Freckles

"Freckles can indicate excess UV damage to the DNA of the skin," says Kormeli. Although certain people are genetically prone to more freckles, they are a result of exposure to the sun and darken over time with more UV exposure.

5. Dryness

Your case of dry skin may not be just from the weather. Dry skin can be a sign of dehydration, and it may be a sign you don't consume enough water or have a diet high in caffeine and alcohol. To make matters even more confusing, sometimes dehydration can also cause breakouts, as your skin tries to produce more oil to make up for the lack of moisture.

6. Beard of Acne

Acne around the chin and mouth area, of where a bear typically grows, may be associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome, an endocrine system disorder that can also be related to infertility. Acne from PCOS tends to flare up in the lower areas of the face related to hormone disruption, so if you're experiencing persistent acne problems along with irregular periods, you may want to check in with a doctor.

At the end of the day, have no fear: not all skin conditions indicate something is wrong, and sometimes the usual skin ailment is nothing more than a normal and harmless flare up. If you suspect anything is wrong, see your dermatologist, who can help uncover the root of your problems.

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