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Is my bad skin a warning sign?

20th April 2015

Bad skin can be a warning sign for a wide array of health problems and people should always be on the lookout for changes in the condition of their skin, however minor they appear.

Research published in the US in 2013 showed that skin may show signs of an internal disease before other symptoms develop. The study, produced by the American Academy of Dermatology, revealed that hundreds of different nuances on the skin could spell health trouble.

A new rash could be an indication of an internal problem or infection. For example, the report stated that one of the early symptoms of hepatitis C infection is a rash present on lower legs and the tops of feet.

Anyone who has found a new growth on their skin should see a dermatologist as soon as possible. It could be a sign of an internal cancer, a genetic syndrome or even internal disease.

According to Hermione Lawson, of the British Skin Foundation, "If you look after your skin, it will be able to do its job better."

Texture and colour changes

Discolouration to the skin is another sign people should look out for. One of the most common signs of liver disease is a yellowing of the skin, particularly in the fingertips or fingernails, while a clear darkening of skin creases might be an indication of Addison's disease.

Changes in texture to the skin might also be a sign of health problems. The American Academy of Dermatology report found that systemic sclerosis, acanthosis nigricans and acquired cutis laxa are among the health issues that may be first demonstrated by changes to skin texture. 

Dr Cindy Owen, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville and a dermatologist, says that unusual markings on the skin may indicate another medical problem.

She recommends a visit to a dermatologist for anyone with concerns over a skin problem. They will have the knowledge and expertise to tell when an issue with the skin is a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Skin is a barrier to protect the body from the outside environment, so it is often the first place where health issues are evident. Paying close attention to the condition of skin can therefore help to catch health problems as early as possible.

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