4 Truths Your Skin Speaks About Your Health

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Article by Cristal G. Orpilla, R.N.

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The skin is the largest organ of the body.  So it’s no surprise that many conditions from inside our bodies can be seen on the outside via the skin.  Sure, makeup can be used to cover some flaws,  but the truth about your health is seen in the skin.  Read on for 4 clues on what your skin can be telling about your well-being.

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Acne

Young adult pointing at an acne mark on the faceWe used to get them as teens… those annoying bumps that we’re all tempted to pick at. Sure, acne is a common problem many adults and teens face,  but sudden outbreaks can also be due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) . PCOS  is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, whereby  the ovaries cause an imbalance in sex hormones. In PCOS, the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) rises because of increased androgen levels. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone linked to promoting oil production, which can lead to the clogging of pores. As the pore clogs, bacteria can grow and get trapped with excess oil and dead skin cells, resulting in inflammation (aka, a “zit”). Acne usually occurs on the face, chest, and back. To treat acne caused by PCOS,   it’s best to use cleansers with ingredients that combat oil, such as salicylic acid.  It’s also best to slough off pore-clogging dead skin cells and buildup by using exfoliators. If you think you might be suffering from PCOS, see you OB-GYN for testing.

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Colorless Complexion

The “skin white as snow” may have worked on Snow White, but skin that’s paler than normal is an indication of anemia. Anemia occurs when the body has an iron deficiency, which causes a decreased level of hemoglobin in the the blood. Hemoglobin is an important component in red blood cells because they are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body. Hemoglobin-rich blood contains oxygen,  which is why it’s a deep red color.  Blood that lacks hemoglobin lacks oxygen,  which is the main reason why it can literally make your skin look less pink. If you think your pale complexion can be due to anemia,  your doctor can perform a simple blood test to check your levels. Anemia can be easily treated by iron supplements.

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Uneven Skin Tone
You may have not noticed it before, but suddenly there’s a darker patch of skin that suddenly rears its ugly head, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Fluctuations in sex hormones are the culprit of dark brown patches. Imbalances in the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which typically occur during pregnancy or when you start /stop taking birth control medications can cause dark skin patches called melasma. Coined “the mask of pregnancy,” melasma typically appears on forehead, nose, or cheeks. Although the hyperpigmented areas won’t go away overnight,  they can be managed by using products with skin brighteners,  such as licorice extract, hydroquinone, kojic acid, or arbutin.
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Eye Bags

You thought that those eye bags were from those late night parties,  but why are they still there despite a full nine-hour night’s sleep? Swelling of the skin under the eyes could mean sodium overload. A diet that’s high in sodium not only leads to swelling,  but also to high blood pressure. Excess sodium in the body causes water retention in the cells,  which increases blood volume. Increased blood volume makes the heart work harder because more blood needs to go through the blood vessels, causing an increased pressure in your arteries.  These chain of events causes the blood pressure to increase. So why does this cause eye bags? Sodium overload can be seen in the orbital area (the area around the eyes) because the skin is thinner,  and is an area where fluid can accumulate easily. If you think you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor and try to limit sodium intake.

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So take a lesson from Snow White’s stepmother,  and look into the mirror on the wall. Careful inspection of your skin will give you the truth about your health!

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Cristal

Cristal

Online Editor, Beauty Writer at Beauty-Goodies
As a New York City-based registered nurse with backgrounds in pharmacology, medical research, medical spa aesthetics, and cosmetic dermatology, Cristal became interested in the ways people go about achieving beauty. When she's not working full-time at Cornell Medical Center or performing aesthetic treatments at a midtown NYC medical spa, she daylights as a beauty writer, and has a penchant for scoring sample sale treasures, bellydancing, playing dress-up, and of course, chatting about beauty goodies.
Cristal

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