Changes in skin can be an indicator of an underlying health problem, and can be an early warning sign that we ignore at our peril.
It’s true that your eyes can be a window to your soul, but that’s largely because they reflect what is going on inside your body. Your eyes are one of the only places that raw flesh is visible to us from outside of the body, so if our eyes look dull and lifeless, it can be because we’re unwell in another way. The mucous membranes of the mouth also provide useful clues, as does the skin – each part of us offers insights into how our body is functioning.
An unusual skin condition can be the superficial manifestation of something deeper, so it’s useful to get everything checked out. When you go to your dermatologist, have them examine your hair, nails and skin thoroughly every so often, as part of your annual health checkup. Some diseases can remain undiagnosed, but are more obvious if someone is looking for clues. These diseases include:
- Lupus erythematosus
- Digestive issues
Lupus erythematosus, for example, is an inflammatory immune condition that often involves the skin. Dermatomyositis is a rare condition where changes to the skin can provide clues to the diagnosis – there may be papules or redness on the eyelids, changes in nail folds, and abnormal capillaries. Gastrointestinal conditions may bring some skin changes, like psoriasis or redness. A cancer inside the body can cause external skin symptoms, including forms of dermatitis.
Flaky nails, pale eyelids, dry skin
Other important features of our nails, hair and skin is the strength, colour and shape. If a nail or part of your skin starts to lose its form in any way, it’s good to get it checked. Skin, hair and nails doesn’t just change to look unusual for no reason, and should remain healthy-looking.
A good example of something you can see in your nails is protein deficiency – your nails may be brittle, flake or break very easily, indicating that they are not very strong. Protein is one of the key nutrients needed to build strong, healthy hair and nails, so checking how much protein you are eating, and upping it if necessary, is a good starting strategy. If the pinks of your eyes are pale, you may be low in iron. If your skin is dry, you may be dehydrated. There are many clues, so don’t miss them.
We are expert dermatologists.