Our skin plays an important role in our overall health
You can tell a lot from your skin. The body’s largest organ, your skin protects you from injury, bacteria and ultraviolet light. It regulates your body temperature, stores water and creates vitamin D. So it’s no wonder that when something is wrong on the inside, it manifests on the outside.
Here are four ailments that can show up on your skin:
Lots of people develop skin tags, but these benign growths, coupled with thickening of the skin and thickening of the knuckles in someone who is overweight, can be a sign of type 2 diabetes. Likewise, rough brownish patches on your legs—known as diabetic dermopathy—could also signal diabetes. Neither skin tags alone nor diabetic dermopathy are life threatening, but if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes and you develop these signs, it’s worth being checked for the disease.
If you keep getting clusters of small, itchy blisters on your forearms (near your elbows), knees, back, buttocks or your face or scalp, you could have a gluten allergy. As many as one in four people with a gluten allergy develops this intensely itchy rash. Your doctor will need to run tests to diagnose a gluten intolerance (and to rule out other causes).
Shingles, a painful condition caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, often announces itself with a burning sensation and a rash of raised red bumps. Within a few days, the bumps—which typically appear only on one side of your face, legs, neck or trunk—become fluid-filled pustules. See your doctor as soon as the burning sensation starts; a course of antiviral medication within 72 hours of the rash’s appearance can reduce the severity of the disease. Or talk to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it for all adults older than 60.
You’ve got pimples like you never had as a teenager. It’s most likely the dreaded adult acne, which, albeit annoying, is easily treated. But acne with unwanted hair and irregular periods can be a sign of a hormone imbalance.