The eyes may be the window to the soul, but a lesser-known, yet equally important fact, is that the skin is a window to the body. Whether it’s the acne breakouts of the teenage years or the radiant glow of pregnancy, our skin tells a story. The key to good skin, therefore, is internal health.
In this two-parter, we will first look at the importance of internal health for skin – and the external signs that may indicate something serious is going on within the body – before moving on to all the ways you can keep your skin healthy from the inside out next week.
Importance of skin health
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is in assuming the skin solely plays an aesthetic role. In fact, it is the ultimate multitasker of the human body. Just a few of its jobs include:
- Being the first line of defence, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, pollution and chemical substances, as well as acting as a shock absorber
- Recognising pain sensations
- Regulating body temperature
- Protecting us against the sun
- Maintaining the balance of fluid
- Controlling moisture loss
Skin conditions linked to health issues
It stands to reason, therefore, that certain skin conditions may well act as a red flag to something more serious going on:
- Liver disease. itchy skin could be an early symptom of liver disease, with one German study of almost 1,200 adults finding that an ongoing itch – as well as eczema – was strongly correlated to it. Hepatitis C – a virus that can infect and damage the liver – is just one example.
- Allergies. From food to cats, all types of allergies can cause hives on the skin – even hours after initial contact.
- Lymphoma. Itchy skin is often an early sign of this type of cancer and will usually be severe and constant. According to a survey of 100 patients, 88% reported ongoing itching which got worse as the cancer advanced.
- Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland which doesn’t produce enough hormones – can be characterised by dry and dull skin, along with brittle hair and nails, fatigue, anxiety and extreme temperature intolerance. The chances of this are higher if you never experienced eczema as a child.
- PCOS. If along with acne you experience excessive facial hair, weight changes, thinning hair and an irregular menstrual cycle, your body may be alerting you to the fact that you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The acne – in this case – would normally be found along the lower face and jawline.
- Diabetes. Not only can patches of dark skin signal underlying diabetes, it may also cause a skin condition called plaques, which is characterised by thick, shiny areas caused by blood sugar-related changes in blood vessels. Elevated levels of blood sugar can also interfere with the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.
- Hormonal diseases are sometimes signalled by a darkening of the skin, most visible in skin folds and joints.
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 infection.
- Shingles. A painful rash is often the first sign of shingles, which is a re-activation of the chickenpox virus you probably had as a child.
- Diabetes. Yet another sign that you may have this blood sugar disease could be in a rash on the back of the neck or around the arms, slightly darker in colour than your normal skin tone.
- Hepatitis C. Also characterised by a purple rash on the lower legs that doesn’t respond to medication.
At Lovoir, we’re always available to help you with skincare, but if you’re worried that something more serious might be going on always see your doctor first.
Next week: Tune in to the second part in which we outline all the ways you can improve skin health from the inside out.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Featured image: Diamantino Santos/Pixabay