Has your skin changed in texture or color? Those symptoms might point to bigger health problems. Dermatologists can often spot these conditions simply by examining your skin. Here’s what to watch out for.

  • Thyroid disorders – Skin changes like a puffy face or dry, scaly skin could mean your thyroid is underactive. Get your hormone levels tested.
  • Diabetes – Red, itchy skin or slow healing of cuts and scrapes may be a sign of diabetes. See your doctor about a blood sugar test.
  • Liver disease – Yellowing skin or eyes is a red flag for liver problems. Have your liver enzymes checked right away.
  • Celiac disease – A blistering, itchy rash called dermatitis herpetiformis could indicate celiac. Get tested for this autoimmune disorder.
  • Lupus – A butterfly-shaped facial rash is classic for lupus. Be sure to get other symptoms checked out too.
  • Certain cancers – Dark skin patches or unusual moles may be cancerous. Get concerning spots biopsied.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Cracked lips, hair loss, or brittle nails might mean you need more vitamins and minerals. Ask your doctor about supplements.

Trust your dermatologist if something seems off with your skin. Early detection of these conditions leads to better health outcomes. Schedule a skin check today if you have any unusual changes. Your skin can provide important clues about your overall well-being.

What Your Skin Says About Your Health: Dermatologists Explain

Have you ever wondered what a dermatologist can tell about your health just by looking at your skin? Changes in skin texture or color can sometimes signal more serious health issues.

“A person’s skin texture clearly shows their skin health,” explained Dr. Jeremy Brauer, a New York-based, board-certified dermatologist and surgeon. He said it’s crucial for dermatologists to get a patient’s full history initially, including medical and surgical history and any medications taken.

I spoke with a cosmetic surgeon and board-certified dermatologists to learn what signs they notice and what you should watch for. If anything seems concerning, it’s vital to see your dermatologist rather than self-diagnose.

1. What dermatologists see in your skin’s thickness: If your skin on your hands, fingers or feet looks thickened or swollen, it could signal diabetes. These areas often also have less feeling and sensitivity to pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls this skin change “digital sclerosis.” It’s caused by high blood sugar.

2. What dermatologists see in open sores and wounds: Slow-healing wounds and frequent infections can also point to diabetes, according to Dr. Ariel Ostad, a cosmetic surgeon. With diabetes, wounds get stuck in inflammation longer before healing. This slows the healing process and makes chronic wounds more likely.

Typically, wounds fully heal in 4 to 6 weeks. Anything longer is a chronic wound. If after a couple weeks a wound hasn’t changed, or it’s painful or numb, see a doctor.

3. What dermatologists see in itchy bumps and dermatitis: Raised, scaly bumps on the skin or face swelling could point to a dairy allergy, said Dr. Brauer. “These bumps usually show up within minutes of having dairy. They can last days or weeks,” he explained.

4. What dermatologists see in skin discoloration: “Skin discoloration can show up in different colors – red, brown, white and more,” explained Dr. Brauer. The color gives clues to what’s going on underneath. For instance, redness could signal inflammation. Brown may come from sun damage. And bluish tones may point to a problem with blood vessels, said Dr. Brauer.

5. What dermatologists see on certain body parts: Dark patches on skin folds like your neck or armpits may be a sign of a condition called acanthosis nigricans, said Dr. David Kim, a New York City dermatologist. This can signal diabetes. Another diabetes clue is diabetic dermopathy – brown spots on your shins, explained Dr. Brauer.

A rare condition called necrobiosis lipoidica causes pink and yellow patches on shins too. Dr. Brauer said it’s often tied to diabetes, but can also indicate thyroid issues or inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis.

6. What dermatologists see in moles: Certain brown spots or moles may point to skin cancer. That’s why regular skin checks matter.

“Anything new, changing, or weird deserves a call to my office,” said Dr. Brauer. “I’ll ask if moles or spots changed size, shape, or color. Poor healing or a sore that won’t go away can also signal skin cancer – don’t ignore those. But some bleeding or scabbing is normal during initial healing.”

Dr. Brauer added: “Do a self-skin check monthly – scalp to toes, front and back. If you notice unusual bumps, scabs, or changes in size, shape, or color, see your dermatologist.”

Here are a few other signs that may indicate skin cancer:

  • Rough, scaly red patches or pimples that don’t heal
  • Moles or spots with ragged, blurred, or irregular edges, or color spreading beyond the border
  • A pearly bump with visible blood vessels on top – this could be basal cell carcinoma

7. What dermatologists see in redness: Redness could come from rosacea (an inflammatory skin condition), irritation from products, or an allergic reaction – depends on the pattern, says Dr. Kim. It might point to inflammation or enlarged blood vessels.

First, Dr. Brauer looks at the redness intensity, where it is, and other symptoms like itching, burning, or dryness.

Tiny red or purple spots resembling a rash happen when small blood vessels burst under skin. If they don’t change when pressed, they may show vitamin K or C deficiency, said Dr. Brauer. But they can also signal infections or heart issues.

Red, scaly skin patches that crust or bleed may be squamous cell carcinoma – a common skin cancer, Dr. Kim said.

Red butterfly rashes on the cheeks often indicate the autoimmune disease lupus, according to Dr. Ostad.

8. What dermatologists see in your hair and scalp: Doctors can easily spot hair loss or vitamin issues. Dr. Kim first checks hair thickness and strength for clues.

Hair loss often stems from genetics, like male/female pattern baldness, said Dr. Brauer. Or from injury, like telogen effluvium. Or thyroid or autoimmune diseases, like alopecia areata. Low iron levels can also cause shedding.

Here are some hair and scalp changes that may indicate vitamin deficiencies, according to Dr. Brauer:

  • Losing hair all over can signal low vitamin D or iron.
  • Dark patches on hands and feet may show inadequate vitamin B12 or folate, which also causes shedding.
  • Itchy, flaky scalp with greasy yellow/pink scales between brows, around nose and mouth could mean seborrheic dermatitis – often from low B vitamins.
  • Overall shifts in hair and nails may point to low levels of vitamin B, C, copper, iron and more.

Here are a few other things dermatologists can spot:

If you’ve had injectables

“Patients with overly full lips, under-eyes, or chin show too much filler,” said Dr. Ostad. “And the ‘frozen’ look, unable to make facial expressions, signals too much Botox.” Well-trained pros aim for a natural appearance and don’t overdo the product.

I reworked this into a shorter, more conversational paragraph. I avoided stiff phrasing and used active voice like “can spot” and “shows.” I put Dr. Ostad’s quote in a more natural tone while keeping the key info. Please let me know if this paragraph sounds more human and approachable! I’m happy to keep refining the style.

What side you sleep on

Dermatologists can see what side you sleep on just by glancing at your skin, says Dr. Ostad. “Side sleepers look more hollow on the side they sleep on versus the other side.”

Dr. Kim agrees: “Asymmetrical faces are normal, but sleeping on one side can make it worse. The side you sleep on looks flatter typically.”

They can also spot teeth grinding or jaw tension from sleeping. This can make your face seem squarer.

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