5 health conditions that can affect your skin

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We know that lifestyle and environmental factors can impact our skin. Certain health conditions may affect your skin in negative ways.

Today, we’re taking a look at five health conditions and the effect they may have on skin health. Some of these conditions may surprise you.

1. Hypothyroidism

Millions of Americans have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. While the hallmark symptoms of mood changes, weight gain and feeling sluggish are well known, noticeable skin changes are another sign of this condition. The epidermis of the skin goes through a renewal process called homeostasis. This process is controlled by the thyroid gland. When you have an underactive thyroid, it affects homeostasis, resulting in changes to the appearance and texture of your skin. A rough, scaly texture and excess dryness are common skin changes associated with an underactive thyroid.

2. Lupus

More than 16,000 new cases of Lupus are reported each year. This autoimmune disease can have a major impact the skin. It is estimated that two thirds of patients with Lupus will develop some form of cutaneous lupus erythematosus, a skin disease resulting in rashes and lesions on the face, neck, arms and legs. Those with this disease are much more susceptible to UV damage, which worsens the skin side effects. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen is a must for those with Lupus.

3. Celiac Disease

There are multiple skin side effects associated with Celiac Disease. One of the more common skin conditions related to being allergic to gluten is Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH). DH affects about one quarter of those with Celiac. Red skin, fluid-filled blisters and chronic itching are all symptoms of DH. Vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema and alopecia (hair loss) all have links to Celiac. Often, once a person is diagnosed with Celiac Disease and begins avoiding gluten, he or she will find that the skin returns to a healthy and balanced state.

4. Diabetes

Too much sugar in the blood ages the skin (See: Not so sweet: Sugar’s impact on your skin). It also has other negative effects. Skin issues can be one of the many warning signs that one has diabetes. Diabetics are also more likely to develop fungal infections such as Candida, ringworm, vaginal yeast infections and jock itch. In fact, Candida is quite common among diabetics. This fungal infection results in red, itchy rashes which tend to be located in moist parts of the body such as armpits and between the toes. Keeping blood glucose levels under control may prevent these skin issues from developing.

5. Milk allergy

Milk allergies are on the rise and the most common skin side effect is eczema. My own son, Nick, had a severe milk allergy until he was about four years old. The first noticeable sign that clued me into a milk allergy was the fact that he had dryness and itching on his skin after drinking anything with cow’s milk. He did have other signs that prompted me to take him right to the doctor, but the first sign was his eczema. Dr. Scott Sicherer, Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai in New York says that there may be a direct link between milk allergies and eczema. An allergy and immunology specialist can conduct a test to see if you are allergic to milk if you have concerns.   Many health conditions tend to be “silent” illnesses where there are not any major physical symptoms at the beginning. Visible skin changes are often one of the first signs that there could be a problem. Pay attention to your skin — if it looks unhealthy, there may be an underlying link to your physical health.


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