6 Surprising Signs of Disease Your Skin Can Reveal
All the more reason to show your complexion the TLC it deserves.
Eczema: Linked to depression and anxiety
The dry, itchy, red patches of this condition may show up on areas like your neck or inner elbows. It’s incredibly common—30 million Americans have eczema—and while it most often appears as a kid, adults can develop it, too. One surprise though is the toll it takes on your mental health, says board-certified dermatologist Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Many patients feel like they’re in a bad mood or they have major depressive disorder. They don’t make the connection that a lot of it stems from having a skin disease,” he says. Treating eczema (like with a prescription topical medication) can relieve bothersome symptoms like itching that disturbs sleep and reduces the stress you may feel about the disease, which in turn, can be a boon to your psyche. Check out these 15 eczema causes you might be ignoring.
Psoriasis: Associated with heart disease
This autoimmune system causes raised, rough, scaly patches on your skin, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. It’s also related to some serious health issues. The Foundation points out that research shows sufferers with a severe form of the disease are 58 percent more likely to have a “major cardiac event” and 43 percent more likely to have a stroke. “There may be certain inflammatory markers involved in both psoriasis and the development of plaque in arteries,” says Dr. Silverberg. It may also have to do with the strong meds that patients often have to take to control the disease that contribute to side effects, adds Marie Jhin, MD, board certified dermatologist in San Francisco. And make sure you know these everyday habits that are wrecking your skin.
Rosacea: May be connected to Alzhiemer’s
Over three million Canadians are affected by rosacea—a condition marked by skin redness and flushing. What’s worrisome is that the condition is linked to a 28 percent increased risk of dementia in women, per 2016 research in the Annals of Neurology. It’s emerging research, but if you have rosacea—especially if you’re over age 60, the study notes—you should talk to your doctor about any cognitive problems you’re experiencing.
Plus, rosacea in the summer comes with a whole new set of issues—and here’s exactly how to deal.
Vitiligo: Ups risk of thyroid problems
This skin condition leads to loss of pigment in the skin, explains Courtney Schadt, MD, assistant professor in dermatology at the University of Louisville. “It’s caused by the immune system attacking the cells in the skin that make the pigment called melanin,” she explains. It, too, may share similar pathways as other autoimmune conditions (most commonly, thyroid disease). “I screen all patients for symptoms of these other conditions, and do blood work if needed,” says Dr. Schadt. If necessary, encourage your derm to do the same. But first, read up on these 13 thyroid facts.
Skin cancer: Raises risk for other cancers
If you’ve beaten a melanoma diagnosis, you never want to hear the “C” word again. But, as the American Cancer Society notes, melanoma survivors are at an increased risk for another skin cancer as well as other seemingly non-related cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and kidney cancer. In fact, one study in the American Journal of Epidemiology uncovered a more than two-fold increased risk for breast cancer in women over age 60. To lower your risk of a secondary cancer, the ACS suggests taking these smart steps: be vigilant about limiting UV exposure, stay active, eat a healthy plant-based diet, and stick to one alcoholic drink per day (two for men). Don’t miss the 28 things your skin reveals about your health.
Dry, itchy skin: Associated with ADHD
When your skin won’t stop itching, it can become a distracting nuisance to say the least. And constant scratching can also cut into your slumber, making sleep deprivation a problem. For those reasons, researchers believe that atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) has roots in both child and adult ADD and ADHD. In a new 2016 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, adult patients had a 61 percent elevated risk of these disorders, with the people at the most risk being those who also have headaches and insomnia. Your best bet: talk to your doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis/eczema and you’re experiencing ADHD symptoms like problems focusing on a task, poor time management skills, and impulsiveness. Find out why ADHD is a real concern for Canadian women.