What Your Skin Can Tell You About Your Health

Healthy Skin

What’s the human body’s largest organ? The brain? Liver? Heart? All wrong: The correct answer is the skin!

The skin that you are in—which makes up a huge part of your overall body in terms of area and weight–does far more for your system than merely cover you up. It’s responsible for a variety of duties, such as keeping out bad stuff, regulating your temperature, sending messages to the brain via  external stimulation, and other important tasks.

It also can be a literal billboard reflecting either good or bad health coming from your insides. When things are awry with your health, your skin is often the first place signs can be detected. Here are some common skin issues, and what corresponding health concerns may lie just beneath the “skin-deep” surface.

Take a good look at your own skin, and be sure to bring all concerns to your medical professional for evaluation.

Dry, flaky skin

flaky skin

Often times flaky skin is merely a nuisance and caused by environmental factors such as cold weather.

  • Plain old stress is often a cause of flaky or itchy skin.
  • Allergic reactions, drug reactions, fungal and yeast infections, and conditions such as psoriasis and eczema all count flaky skin as a symptom.
  •  Most serious: HIV infection, cancer, and bacterial infections may be the problem.

“Bruised” spots

Covered in purple splotches? The problem can be more than simply unsightly—it can be indicative of a serious condition going on under the skin.

Although the discoloration may look like an ordinary bruise, investigate it carefully. Bruises as a result of trauma tend to be black and blue. If yours are more red/purple, it could be a condition called Purpura.

Purpura is caused when small blood vessels leak blood under the skin.

There are a variety of causes for it, ranging from weakened blood vessels due to age, to blood clotting disorders. Always check with a doctor.

Itchy persistent rash

itchy skin

A rash that itches, blisters, and doesn’t respond to ordinary measures (OTC creams or soothing baths) could be a sign of a dietary issue.

  • You may have celiac disease, or an allergy to gluten.
  • You can have this intolerance without digestive issues—the rash itself is often indicative of the problem.
  • Check with your medical professional to see if limiting gluten or a prescription can help with this irritating symptom.

Sallow coloring   

If your skin has a yellowish tint to it, take heed. The coloring is often a result of nutritional issues such as vitamin deficiency. Assess your diet to make sure you are getting a balanced intake.

Sallow skin can also be indicative of hypothyroidism, kidney problems, anemia, and ulcers.

If you’re a smoker, a sallow complexion is often a direct result of your habit. Good enough reason to quit? We hope so!

Pasty, pale coloring

pale coloring

Looking paler than normal? This could be a warning sign of severe anemia.

Open your mouth and check your gums to see if they are also pale.

Another telling sign is your nail beds—if they have a bluish tint, you may want to consult a doctor.

Anemia generally needs medical attention but many times can be helped with a change in diet including more iron.

Pay attention to your skin: It’s a mirror to your health. Get regular checkups at the doctor’s office, monitor your diet, get enough sleep–and if you do notice unusual skin-related symptoms, keep a record of them for your physician to assess.

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.