Health: Your Skin Provides Clues of Your Well-Being

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Attorneys are busy professionals – busy taking care of clients, running a law office, and going from courthouse to courthouse. And because of the hectic lives you lead, you don’t always pay attention to the little things in your health, which can be signs of much bigger things.

Take your skin, for example. While protecting you from daily assaults – such as, ultraviolet light, infection and dehydration – it regulates your body temperature and produces vitamin D. Most importantly, it provides clues about your internal health.

Battling Acne

A very common skin affliction is acne. Acne may be associated with severe stress and illness. Acne also is associated with the intake of processed and sugary foods with a high glycemic index. Traditional acne treatments include topical retinoids, which help to normalize the skin’s exfoliation cycle, and topical antibiotics to rid the skin of bacteria that contribute to acne formation.

More severe cases of acne may require oral therapies or cosmetic procedures – such as laser rejuvenation and chemical peels. To enhance the effectiveness of medical and cosmetic therapies, a diet consisting mostly of unprocessed foods with a low glycemic index is recommended.

Hair Loss

Excessive hair shedding, called telogen effluvium, is associated with multiple medical conditions.Thinning hair may be due to hormonal changes, anemia, thyroid disease, lupus, nutritional deficiencies, eating disorders, medication, depression, and severe stress.

Successful hair-loss therapy includes treating the underlying condition, often using minoxidil and corticosteroids to help combat hair loss.Platelet-rich plasma injections are a natural and promising hair regrowth therapy that provides a nutrient-enriched environment for follicular health.

Because hair loss can be emotionally stressful, the whole person must be treated. Adequate sleep, rest and exercise play an important role in building an effective treatment regimen aimed at regrowing hair.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes can manifest through changes in your skin. One common finding is acanthosis nigricans – a thick and darkened skin on the neck, underarms, inner thighs, and cheeks. It is most commonly due to excess weight, which leads to increased insulin production and resistance. Treatment for this condition includes eating foods with a low glycemic index and exercise. Other common cutaneous symptoms of diabetes are difficult-to-control bacterial and fungal skin infections and ulcers on the legs and feet due to poor circulation.

Signs of Other Life-threatening Diseases

Thyroid disease can cause increased sweating or skin dryness, hair loss from the scalp and eyebrows, skin changes on the legs, itching, and changes of the nails. Signs of lupus include skin sensitivity to the sun, a rash, and changes around the nails. Skin findings can be seen in metabolic conditions such as gout, high cholesterol and nutritional disorders. Skin and nail changes also are associated with dysfunction of the liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs. In rare cases, internal malignancies can be associated with skin findings.

Although we may be busy professionals, it is still important that we be in tune with our bodies. The skin is the body’s largest and one of its most vital organs. It helps us communicate with our surroundings through touch and reception. It provides important clues to our general health and should not be ignored.

Article previously published in the Maryland Women’s Journal. Dr. Katina Byrd Miles

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