An organ itself (your body's largest in terms of both weight and surface area), skin protects against invasive bacteria, regulates body temperature, and picks up information from the stimulation of touch, pressure, pain, heat, and cold. Little wonder, then, that when there's something wrong with you on the inside, your skin sometimes sends up the first warning flare. Here are 16 things your skin says about your health.
1. Raised, Red Patches
It means that you may have psoriasis, an imbalance of immune cells that leach underneath skin and cause inflammation, which is what leads to those irritated patches of skin.
"Some people have genes that make them more susceptible to this autoimmune disease," says Marina Peredo, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. Though you can get psoriasis at any age, she notices two peak times of diagnosis: one in people when they're teenagers or in their early 20s and another when they're in their 50s or 60s. The latter flare-up is often set off by a stressful event, like a death in the family or divorce.
Strep throat is another common trigger of psoriasis. Peredo always asks her patients if they also have joint pain, stiffness, or swelling. That's because 30% of psoriasis sufferers also have psoriatic arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease characterized by joint pain accompanied by psoriasis.
If you have this condition, it's not enough to simply treat skin with a steroid cream, so your dermatologist may refer to you to rheumatologist for treatment. And, be sure to monitor your health in other areas. "People with psoriasis may also have an increased risk for many other internal conditions like heart disease, cancer, and depression," adds Marisa Potter, MD, a board certified dermatologist at Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami, FL.
2. Pimples on Your Chin, Jawline, or Neck
The culprit is your period. Hormones like testosterone fluctuate throughout your cycle and make your glands produce more oil, which can ultimately clog your pores and result in pimples.
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