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What Your Skin is Telling You

At birth, we are given this nearly perfect and amazing body – its intricacies and artistry combine to make one fantastic machine. However, unlike most machines, our body is not always easily repaired and parts are not for sale in your local Wal-Mart. As a result, we need to pay attention to what is going on inside and outside our body to avoid, or at least repair, problems as they arise and become insurmountable.

This brief article was taken primarily from a piece found on, written by Paula Spencer, Senior Editor of

Our skin is our body’s largest organ and it serves to protect us from bacteria while also providing information on heat, cold, pain, and regulates our body temperature – it is often the first indicator of something wrong on the inside of our body.

Below is a list of “red flag skin issues” that could and should be monitored in an effort to maintain overall body health:

  1. Yellow skin, orange palms and soles. This could be a result of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). This indicates that the thyroid is not processing vitamins as well as it should, resulting in an abundance of beta-carotene (thus the orange color to the skin). Overall, this condition generally corrects itself over time with a good, solid diet. However, if left unattended, it could lead to heart problems.

  2. Breaking out in hives (in the sun). Unless you are allergic to the sun (possible, but not common), this condition might indicate the ingestion to a photosensitive drug. Usually limited to areas of the skin exposed to the sun (i.e., forearms, neck, etc.), this condition is often longer lasting and more severe than sunburn. Some of the drugs often associated with this condition are: thiazide diuretics, antihistamines, tetracycline, and tricyclic antidepressants. Always check medication labels first. If the condition does exist, get to your doctor so he/she may switch your medications.

  3. Long dark lines in the palm. This can be an indicator of adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease). A result of this skin indicator can be lower blood pressure and a full blown Addisonian crisis, which can be painful, involve vomiting, dehydration, and loss of consciousness. Seeing a physician is clearly advised.

  4. Large dusky blue leg veins. Venous/varicose veins can be nothing more than unsightly; however, they can also be a sign of your veins no longer working properly. The condition can be treated with simply exercises or may require surgery.

  5. Brownish spots on the skin. Often called diabetic dermopathy, it is a condition (often found with diabetics on the front of the legs – where people bang into things frequently) that can often leave unhealed sores. Although not a serious condition in and of itself, diabetic dermopathy can be an indicator of the sufferer having diabetes.

  6. Persistent rash that you want to scratch raw. This could be an allergic reaction to gluten. Often found in small clusters on the elbows, knees, back, face, and scalp; they could be the classic signs of celiac disease (dermatitis herpetiformis). Blood test and a biopsy of the small intestine may be required to diagnose this condition. A change in diet is generally prescribed, as may be some form of medication.

  7. Purple stains or splotches. Purpura, or leaking blood vessels, looks like a bruise, but last longer and is often the result of years of neglect or abuse of the skin (i.e., sunburns year after year). Other factors that can lead to Purpura are excessive use of aspirin, vitamin E, or blood thinners (such as Coumadin). It is important to have your physician take a look at these “bruises” to evaluate them in combination with medications you are taking and your life style.

  8. Intense Itchiness without redness. This may be a sign of pruritis (an early sign of some form of lymphoma – sometimes called “Hodgkin itch”). If accompanied by a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin. Clearly a doctor’s review is warranted.

  9. Pallor, especially with blue tinged nails. This may be a form of severe anemia, or iron deficiency. Often poor diets are the cause and correcting your diet can repair such an illness. However, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement to help alleviate the problem.

  10. Tingling skin followed by a rash on only one side of the face or body. Usually diagnosed as “shingles,” this can be a very painful condition brought on by stress, infection, certain medications, or even an aging immune system. These red bumps can appear to be similar to chicken pox, and in reality, are caused by the same virus as those that cause chicken pox. Again, a doctor’s visit is called for in these situations.

The old adage remains true to this day: “Take care of your skin and it will take care of you.”

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