When most people think of bodily organs, the ones they can't see — such as the liver and heart — come to mind. If you have health concerns associated with them, the issues might manifest as specific symptoms that you mention to your doctor, or your physician might notice something during your annual physical.
However, the body's largest organ is one you can see: the skin. It can be an excellent indicator of your overall health and could clue you in about possible problems that require further investigation by a medical professional.
Dry Skin Could Mean You're DehydratedDrinking water is one of the simplest things you can do to promote good health. The water you drink doesn't directly go to your skin, but dermatologists say staying hydrated supports healthy skin. If you look parched more often than not, try adding more water to your daily regimen. One simple way to check if your fluid intake is adequate is to look at the colour of your urine. It should ideally be pale yellow and almost clear.
Remember that you can keep your skin hydrated with a topical treatment, too. Just apply your favourite moisturizer.
The overall symptoms of dehydration in the body range from feeling dizzy for more than a few seconds after standing up to experiencing a rapid heart rate or extreme lethargy. Dehydration can also cause lesser-known symptoms such as back pain. Being dehydrated can sacrifice your skin's health but have broader effects.
Your Skin Could Alert You to an AllergyWhen the skin breaks out in a rash or becomes scaly or itchy, you might be having an allergic reaction. If those symptoms happen after you touch the bothersome substance, it's probably a condition called contact dermatitis. Once you find the cause of the problem, the allergy should clear up within a couple of weeks.
Your skin can also react to food allergies and show signs like hives or swelling. In those cases, your lips or chin could be most affected because they're highly likely to touch the cuisine that's giving you trouble.
An allergist or immunologist will also rely on your skin when doing an allergy test. That person pricks you on the forearm or back with a needle containing a drop of a suspected allergen. Then, the practitioner checks for redness or swelling at particular spots, showing you're sensitive to the substances placed there.
Your Acne Locations May Have a Deeper MeaningIt's certainly frustrating to look into the mirror and notice you're dealing with an acne breakout. Practitioners of ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine used a technique called face mapping that split the facial skin into at least 10 zones and claimed that acne problems in certain areas signified health problems elsewhere.
There's no scientific evidence for face mapping used that way, but it's still useful to pay attention if you discover your breakouts are particularly bad in some places. For example, skin and jawline acne can be a symptom of hormonal imbalances, while pimples on your cheeks might mean you need to wash your pillowcases more often to keep bacteria levels at bay.
Changes in Your Moles Could Be a Sign of Skin CancerSkin cancer or melanoma can be serious if not treated early. Fortunately, checking your moles for changes is an excellent way to reduce your skin cancer risk.
Become familiar with the locations of your moles and check all of them every three months. If they change size or shape, develop irregular borders, appear asymmetrical, or start bleeding or scabbing, see your dermatologist for an in-depth check.
If your provider deems some of your moles need close attention, you'll likely be scheduled for a professional assessment each year and should continue checking and monitoring them every three months at home.
Strange Skin Symptoms Warrant Health ChecksIt's smart to commit to staying aware of your skin, and don't ignore anything unusual. That's because some cancers, including leukaemia and lymphoma, have itching as a symptom.
Lupus, an autoimmune disease, features red, scaly lesions among its symptoms. Those mostly appear in sections of your body exposed to the sun.
Diabetes has skin-related symptoms, too, including outbreaks of reddish-yellow bumps and red or brown patches on the skin. You may notice these if you have undiagnosed diabetes, or the disease is not well-managed.
Your Skin's a Window to Your HealthIt should be obvious that, although the skin can't tell you everything that's going on with your body, it could help you realize something's amiss. Going to the doctor is the best way to determine if something's wrong, and if necessary, how to treat it.