Skin covers almost every part of the human body apart from eyes and teeth. It has amazing properties in that it is waterproof and acts as a shield against the environment and infections.
In their book, Body Signs, Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Nardi Egan discuss some of the ways skin works and the sicknesses that can affect it.
Health Conditions and Diseases Revealed by the Skin
There are diseases that affect the skin and others that affect another part of the body but cause symptoms in the skin. Here are some of signs to look out for:
- Pale skin may be a sign of anemia, which is caused by a deficiency of red blood cells and iron.
- Bluish skin can indicate oxygen deprivation and cyanosis. This can be caused by high altitudes, cold water, lung disease, heart disease and asthma.
- Yellow skin is commonly associated with jaundice, hepatitis and liver or pancreatic cancer. It is caused by bilirubin, which is the by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells.
- Orange skin can be caused by consuming too much beta-carotene – either as vitamin A supplements or eating too many foods containing it, such as carrots.
- Flushed rosy cheeks may be caused by rosacea, which is often accompanied by tiny pimples and small dilated blood vessels under the skin.
- A butterfly-shaped mask on the face is an indication of lupus.
- Dark patches on the face often appear during pregnancy. They are called melasma and are caused by a type of hyperpigmentation. The condition can be worsened by exposure to sun and high levels of estrogen.
- Large white patches on the body may be due to vitiligo. The patches are harmless but are susceptible to sunburn as they lack pigment.
- Bruises turn skin blue, purple and yellow and are normally caused by physical trauma. If they are not, they will be caused by blood leaking into the tissues under the skin. This type of bruising indicates a reaction to medications such as ASPIRIN® and warfarin, or a a more serious condition such as leukemia or Cushing’s syndrome.
- Psoriasis is characterized by raised red patches with silvery scales. They are often found on the scalp, elbows, knees, back and buttocks.
- Small, reddish, rough patches that may ulcerate and bleed can be a sign of solar keratosis, a precancerous condition. They are often found on the face, neck, shoulders, back and arms – all areas that are exposed to the sun.
- Skin that feels hard and taut can be a sign of scleroderma. This is a chronic connective tissue disorder that is caused by an overproduction of collagen.
There are many diseases and conditions that can affect it and these may affect the color, feel, and appearance of the skin.
Any abnormality that persists for longer than a few days or weeks should be investigated by a doctor.