What your skin says about your health: What you should know

Your skin plays a significant role in keeping you healthy and can tell a lot about what’s going on inside your body. Here’s a closer look at how your skin protects you and what certain skin conditions mean when it comes to your overall health.

The role of your skin

Your skin is the largest organ, vital for protecting you from the sun’s rays, germs, toxins and other harmful substances you may come in contact with. It also helps with things like temperature regulation, vitamin production, and immune defense.

As the largest organ, the skin requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep on the outside, as well as the inside.

What your skin can tell you about your health

Just looking at your skin can tell you and others around you a lot. Your age, habits and overall health can all be determined by your skin. Here are a few common skin conditions and what they may mean.

Dry, itchy skin. If you’re applying moisturizer often and don’t see much change in the condition of your skin, it may be atopic dermatitis (eczema). This skin condition is often very itchy and causes dry, cracked skin. Atopic dermatitis is also often associated with asthma and hay fever.

Unusual hair growth. If you’re noticing hair growth in areas that are typical to males (face and chin) or just below the belly button, it may be a sign of something more. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, typically presents with excessive hair growth and may be a reason to visit your doctor.

Sunspots.  Lifelong sun exposure can cause freckles and sunspots to appear on your skin. Most sun damage occurs in childhood and teenage years and can lead to skin cancer. If you notice any unusual spots on your skin that are growing, raised or sore and won’t heal, you should visit your dermatologist.

Changes in your nails.  Changes in your nails such as color, dark spots, or changes in the shape can be a sign of internal issues. Things like vitamin deficiencies to liver disease and lupus can cause changes in your nails.

What you can do to keep your skin healthy

There are many things you can do to keep your skin healthy and vibrant. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and avoiding things that dehydrate your skin (excessive alcohol and caffeine) is a good start. Avoiding excess exposure to the sun, not smoking, adhering to a healthy diet and getting a good night’s sleep can also help.

If you do start to notice changes in your skin, it’s important to visit your dermatologist or primary care provider as soon as possible. This will help properly diagnose your condition and get it treated.

To book an appointment with our dermatology, rheumatology or primary care team, click here or call (813) 960-2400.