Your skin is sending you messages every day. It tells you when it’s dry, irritated, or inflamed. It lets you know that you’re getting older, or that you didn’t get enough sleep last night. And unfortunately, it also tends to make it plainly visible when you’re stressed out.
Most of the time, you probably wish your skin would just behave, no matter what else is going on. But as the body’s largest organ, it can’t help but be affected by everything else that’s happening inside you.
You can take advantage of this by watching your skin carefully for signs that something else scary may be happening to your health. Your skin is like a canary in a coalmine—it can signal problems long before you may otherwise become aware of them.
Below—just in time for Halloween—are 12 scary things your skin may be telling you about your health right now.
1. You’re Having a Reaction
If your skin or your gums turn blue, you could be reacting to a medication you’ve taken. Bluish-gray skin may also indicate that you’ve ingested lead products, or it could indicate a lack of oxygen in the blood. Keep an eye on your overall “hue” for signs like these.
2. Your Hormones Are Out of Balance
If you’re seeing acne breakouts on your chin and jawline, they could signal a possible hormone imbalance. These typically show up during times of stress, a woman’s period, or menopause or pre-menopause. Balancing your hormones could help to clear up your skin.
3. You’ve Consumed Too Much Sodium
If your eyes are looking baggy and puffy, it could be because of your diet. High-sodium foods like soups, sauces, chips, and snacks can promote water retention, causing swelling and puffing.
4. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Dry, irritated skin is a sign that you don’t have enough moisture in the body. If you haven’t been drinking enough, the body will pull water from the skin and other outside systems to feed the internal organs. Drink more water and choose more water-rich foods like melons and apples.
5. Your Ovaries Need Help
If you’re a woman and you notice hair growing in unusual places, such as around the chin or below your belly button, you could be at risk for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition that causes the body to produce an excess of male hormones. Other symptoms include acne, irregular periods, and male-pattern baldness.
6. Your Liver is Struggling
if you have ongoing itchy skin for six weeks or more, accompanied by raised red areas on your legs, you could have cirrhoses or hepatitis—two types of liver disease. Skin and eyes may also appear yellow, and you may notice swelling in the legs and ankles, along with chronic fatigue and a dark urine color.
7. Your Body Didn’t Like that Food
It’s common to experience a little redness in the cheeks now and then, due to embarrassment or cold weather, but if your entire face turns red after eating, you could be suffering from a food intolerance. Foods that don’t agree with your digestive system can cause skin redness and inflammation.
8. You Have Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands fail to produce enough of the hormone cortisol. One of the symptoms is an unexplained tanning or darkening of the skin. The darkening may also be noticeable in the mouth or inner ear. Additional symptoms include extreme fatigue, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, a craving for salt, muscle or joint pains, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, and nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
9. Your Thyroid Needs Help
Brittle hair and nails, along with dull, ashy skin may signal hypothyroidism—a condition in which the thyroid gland in the neck doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Other symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures, heavy menstrual periods, and trouble sleeping.
10. You Have Diabetes
If you notice dark spots on your lower legs, they could signal diabetes. The spots typically start out red or pink and then become brownish, and may also appear around the neck, armpit, or groin. Changes in the skin’s blood vessels caused by the body’s response to high blood sugar levels can result in these types of spots.
11. You Need More B Vitamins
Dry lips are common in the colder months, but no lip balm will be able to smooth them out if you’re deficient in vital nutrients like vitamin B3 (niacin), B6, and B2 (riboflavin). B vitamins help promote the growth of healthy skin cells while helping to repair damaged skin. Eating a healthy diet helps, then try eating more mushrooms, almonds, spinach, green peas, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, bananas, and Garbanzo beans.
12. You’re Missing Out on Healthy Essential Fatty Acids
One of the primary signs that you’re low on healthy essential fatty acids is rough, dry, or dull skin, as well as inflammation and swelling or raised bumps on the skin. If you notice these signs, you may need to increase your intake of cold-water fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and plant oils like flaxseed oils. You may also want to look for fatty acids in your skin care products—ingredients like triglycerides, natural oils, and ceramides.
Watch Your Skin Carefully
If you notice these or other odd signs on your skin, check with your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you may end up thanking your skin for its helpful information!
Has your skin ever signaled a health problem?