11 Things Your Skin Says About Your Health—Does Your Skin Feel Itchy All The Time?

BY Ruby Mey TIMEMarch 20, 2019 PRINT

Your skin is important not only for your appearance and for beauty reasons, but also because it can reveal issues with your overall health.

Your skin, the largest part of the body, is the organ that comes directly into contact with the world around you. Therefore, it has the very important job of preventing harmful microbes from entering your body but it’s also responsible for allowing you to interact with and react to your environment. It has many nerve endings that allow you to feel things such as heat, cold, and pain.

For example, when exposed to direct sunlight, your skin makes more vitamin D, which is an important vitamin for bone health, cancer prevention, and decreased risk of the flu. Healthier skin typically means a healthier body. In fact, many severe health concerns often first appear as skin conditions. Here are 11 things your skin reveals about your body and health.

1. Itchy Skin

Itchy skin
Itchy skin (Ivan_kislitsin/Shutterstock)

It’s normal for your skin to itch from time to time, but itchy skin that doesn’t seem to go away could be an indicator of something more serious. Itchy skin could indicate liver disease, kidney failure, and thyroid problems. Nerve disorders like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and shingles can cause itchy skin as well. Sometimes even anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression can cause itchy skin.

2. Acne

Acne (ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock)

Facial acne is most common but it’s not the only one that could be an indicator of a problem. Many serious forms of acne can appear all over the body and indicate bigger problems.

For adults, everything from stress to dry skin, to your cell phone can contribute to acne flare ups. Even a high-carbohydrate diet can cause acne.

The most common causes of facial acne are: hair products, frequent change in facial products, and touching the skin too often.

3. Hives

Hive (NamtipStudio/Shutterstock)

If you break out in hives shortly after eating certain foods or being exposed to new environments or substances, the hives are more than likely caused by an allergic reaction to your environment. Common triggers of allergy-related hives include pet fur, pollen, insects, and chemicals.

But what if your hives appear without cause and don’t get better with time? If you find that this is the case, consult with your doctor for examination. Chronic hives have been linked with thyroid dysfunction, particularly Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism.

4. Eczema

Eczema (Ternavskaia Olga Alibec/Shutterstock)

Eczema is an incurable skin condition characterized by red, itchy patches on the skin. In most cases, eczema is controlled by application of medicinal creams and ointments.

But, this skin condition can reveal deeper health problems. If eczema doesn’t show improvement after some time this may put you at increased risk of stroke, angina, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, and even death from heart disease. Severe eczema could be an indicator of Vitamin A deficiency. If eczema doesn’t get better after trying several at-home remedies, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor.

5. Dry Skin

Dry skin
Dry skin (TRAIMAK/Shutterstock)

In most cases, dry skin is simply caused by dry weather or lack of hydration. With increased water intake and the application of moisturizer, dry skin should improve over time.

Chronically dry skin, however, that makes the skin coarse may be a sign of hypothyroidism, nutritional deficiencies, or blood circulation concerns. If you have chronic dry skin, you should bring your concerns to your doctor for further examination.

6. Plaque

Psoriasis (Hriana/Shutterstock)

A skin plaque is a large, elevated, solid, and rough lesion on the skin that is typically more than half an inch in diameter. They can appear anywhere on the body and are often either sore, itchy, or cause a burning sensation. If you notice these plaques, also known as psoriasis, it might indicate that you have a large number of inflammatory mast cells, which are the kind that trigger allergic reactions.

Some medicines, stress, alcohol, tattoos, smoking and cold, as well as dry weather can all trigger psoriasis.

7. Rashes

Rash (Kitzcorner/Shutterstock)

Rather than being a specific diagnosis, a rash on the skin could be a symptom of a number of health conditions. Rashes on the skin are characterized by itchy and discolored patches that cause discomfort.

Some chronic causes of rashes include shingles, hives, rosacea, and eczema. These conditions are incurable, however, they most typically resolve over time on their own. Some other common causes of rashes include plant rashes, razor bumps, and athlete’s foot.

8. Cholesterol Deposits

Cholesterol deposits
Cholesterol deposits (Klaus D. Peter/Shutterstock)

Cholesterol deposits are fatty deposits that build up underneath the skin and are known in the medical community as xanthelasma. They typically form around the eyelids and appear as yellowish-white lumps or bumps under the skin.

This condition is most common in people with a lipid disorder which indicates that they have too many lipids, or fats, in their bloodstream. This may be hereditary, as you might be lacking an enzyme that breaks down lipids, or it could be caused by lifestyle and diet choices.

Kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and diabetes can have an effect on cholesterol deposit buildup as well.

9. Wrinkles

Wrinkles (Goodluz/Shutterstock)

Your skin naturally changes as you grow older. With age, more and more wrinkles naturally show up as collagen and elastin levels decrease in the skin. Sun exposure, especially in fair-skinned people, is the main contributor to wrinkles.

Some research suggests that the deeper the forehead wrinkles, the more chance you have cardiovascular disease, although this could also be linked to lifestyle factors.

In young people, stress is the major cause of wrinkles.

10. Stretch Marks

Stretch marks
Stretch marks (PRASAN MAKSAEN/Shutterstock)

Stretch marks are caused by the tearing of the dermis, the middle layer of the skin. They are often caused by dramatic increases in body size due to pregnancy, weight gain, or rapid growth during puberty.

Stretch marks indicate an increased level of cortisone, a hormone, which makes your skin lose its elasticity. Some creams, lotions, and pills that contain cortisone may also contribute to stretch marks as do Cushing’s, Marfan’s and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, which all affect the adrenal gland which creates more cortisone in the body.

11. Dark Spots

Dark spots
Dark spots (Ngukiaw/Shutterstock)

Dark patches or spots are commonly associated with excessive exposure to sunlight. To alleviate this, simply wear sunscreen or avoid excessive time in direct sunlight. However, not all dark patches are made equal.

Dark spots could also be a symptom of adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s Disease, since adrenal glands don’t make enough steroid hormones, and Addison’s could be caused by increased stress.

There are other serious skin problems like skin cancer. So regularly check your skin health, if you see any of these symptoms check with your doctor for advice.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Kristina Pentchoukova contributed to this article

Ruby Mey
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