You may have already suspected that your skin is a reflection of your inner health. This is evidenced by tired, puffy eyes when you don't get enough sleep, as well as zits and grease galore when you aren't exactly eating the best food. But did you know that your skin can give away even more underlying health secrets?
"The skin, the largest organ in the body, is ... a 'portal' to a variety of common and uncommon visceral organ and systemic diseases," says Dr. Patricia Ceballos of Schweiger Dermatology Group in an email to Bustle. "Diseases which plague our Western culture often present with skin signs. Metabolic disorders rank high on the list."
These, as well as a bunch of other health issues, can present themselves in the form of skin splotches, patches, rashes, and more. It's your body's way of signaling that something needs to change — whether that means your diet, your stress levels, or your sleep schedule. It could also mean you need to get things checked by a doctor, ASAP.
If anything about your skin changes, or appears to be out of the norm, it's definitely worth investigating. Read on for some of the signs that epidermis of yours is screaming out for attention, and consult with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for you.
1. You Need To Get Your Stress Under Control, ASAP
If your skin was kind of OK for a while, and then you woke up to a horrific breakout, it could be stress that's to blame. "When you're hopped up on anxiety, your body releases cortisol, which can lead to breakouts," Marisa Potter, a Miami-based dermatologist, told Jessica Migala in Prevention. To get things under control, start incorporating some stress-reducing activities into your day. Think yoga, meditation, or an evening spent cuddled up inside a blanket fort — just you and some Netflix.
2. Sleep Should Be Higher On Your Priority List
If you constantly wake up to eyes that are beyond puffy, don't take it as a fact of life. "Swollen eyes may be from something as simple as skimping on shut-eye one night," Migala said. If you think that's the case, try plopping into bed a bit earlier (and practicing good sleep hygiene) to see if that doesn't de-puff the issue.
3. Your Hormones Have Seen Better Days
You probably know acne can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. But did you know different kinds of acne can point to different hormonal issues? "In women, acne that appears mainly along the lower face or jaw line can be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome," Doris Day, a NYC-based dermatologist, told Bahar Gholipour on HuffingtonPost.com. If that sounds familiar, head to a doctor for testing and potential treatment.
4. You Need To Be Checked For Things Like Anemia
Some internal issues can affect the pigment of your skin. "Vitiligo, a common skin disease featuring white patches, is linked to diabetes, pernicious anemia, viral hepatitis, and autoimmune thyroid disease," Ceballos says. So definitely don't let these colorful changes go on ignored.
5. You Need To Eat & Drink More (Yay!)
If you have dark patches under your eyes, it could be due to genetic luck of the draw. Or, it could be a sign of several underlying health issues. "Dark skin under your eyes can ... be caused by a nutrient deficiency, a lack of hydration, or not getting enough sleep," said health writer Kate Daly in Best Health. So, apart from hitting the hay and drinking more water, make sure that you're eating a balanced diet.
6. There Could Be An Autoimmune Disease At Play
If you have a pink rash splashed across your face, it could be rosacea. But if it's the classic "butterfly rash," it could also be a sign of lupus, according to Paolo Romanelli, a Miami-based dermatologist, on WebMD.com. If you have this don't panic, but do get yourself to a doctor, ASAP.
7. Your Cholesterol Needs To Be Reigned In
Remember what was said above about our Western culture? Well, sometimes things like high cholesterol can be linked to skin issues. As Ceballos says, "Hyperlipidemia, namely elevated levels of lipids such as cholesterol, can present with yellowish deposits in eyelid skin termed xanthelasma." If you see these poking about, be sure to ask about it.
8. Your Thyroid Is Up To No Good
OK, so there's usually nothing shocking about dry skin. Maybe you shower too often, or always forget to put on lotion. No big deal. However, sometimes chronically dry skin can be a sign of internal issues. As Day told the Huffington Post, "... very dry, itchy skin could be a sign of hormonal problems, such as an underactive thyroid."
9. You Need To Get Checked For Diabetes
If you have yellow bumps on your arms and legs, or dark patches of skin near your underarms, it could be a sign of diabetes, according to Migala. "Though 29 million Americans have diabetes, one-quarter of them don't know it, so skin symptoms may be one of the first clues," she added.
10. Your Digestion Needs Some Tender Loving Care
Remember what I said about different types of acne? If your zits tend to crop up around your nose and mouth, it could be that your digestion needs some help. "Acne like this can indicate digestive inflammation, stomach hypoactivity or food sensitivities," said skin expert Celestyna Brozek on MindBodyGreen.com. To get things under control, Brozek suggested an elimination diet to help figure out which foods may be causing problems.
11. There's Some Type Of Internal Infection
Has your skin been all about the rashes, as of late? If so, it might be high time you were checked for an infection. "In general, a rash that does not respond to treatment, and is accompanied by other symptoms — such as fever, joint pain and muscle aches — could be a sign of an internal problem or infection," Gholipour said.
Don't let any of these skin changes throw you into a panic, but do see your doctor if something appears worrying. More than likely it's nothing, but it's definitely worth the double check.
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