4 Skin Problems Tied To Other Health Issues

Discolored, wrinkled, or otherwise less-than-pristine skin can certainly be a source of embarrassment, one that cosmetic dermatology can often address quite successfully. But it may also be a red flag for some other underlying challenge of your overall health and wellness. Here are four conditions that your skin may be trying to warn you about.

1. Liver Disease

If you have circular or web-shaped collections of tiny purple veins on your face or chest, you might have cause for concern beyond how you look in the mirror. These "spider veins" can be created by pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, or sun exposure. For heavy drinkers, however, they could spell the advent of cirrhosis or other chronic liver disease. If you drink somewhat more than moderately, you may need to consider the possibility that your liver needs tending to, especially if you also have a bloated abdomen or extremities. Your skin may also appear yellowish, a sign of jaundice.

Whatever the cause of your spider veins, you may take comfort in the fact that these unsightly patches can be removed fairly easily through cosmetic dermatology. The most commonly used technique, sclerotherapy, involves injecting the veins with a solution that collapses them. Spider veins can also be vaporized through laser treatment.

2. Venous Insufficiency

Varicose veins are the big brothers of spider veins, affecting larger, deep veins than the tiny surface veins visible on the face or chest. They are frequently the bane of pregnant women whose circulatory systems undergo nine months of additional stress. Most of the time, these veins pose no direct threat to your health -- but they could be an indicator of a more troublesome issue known as venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency means that your veins aren't doing an efficient job of returning blood from your extremities to your heart. This can cause leg pain, swelling, and possibly phlebitis or ulcers.

Fortunately, a variety of treatments are available to get rid of ugly varicose veins. The traditional method of vein stripping, a surgical ligation and removal of the entire vein. Sclerotherapy and laser surgery, the same techniques used for spider vein removal, can remove larger varicose veins as well. Your doctor may even offer radiofrequency ablation, in which radio frequencies applied to the vein via a catheter collapse the vein permanently.

3. Diabetes

Do you have dark or grayish discolorations on the skin of your groin, neck or armpits? If so, then you may already be planning to consult your cosmetic dermatologist about removing these discolorations. But you might also consider visiting your general practitioner to rule out the possibility of another disorder -- diabetes.

Acanthosis nigricans is the name of this particular "red flag," and it occurs when your blood sugar levels are high. Excess insulin can trigger cells to overgrow along the skin folds, causing skin thickening. The melatonin in these overgrowths produces the discoloration. Your cosmetic dermatologist may be able to lighten these areas through prescription creams or laser therapy, but your main concern should be addressing your blood sugar issues.

4. Malnutrition

Dry skin is a common problem, and usually a trivial one that can be remedied with over-the-counter products. But if you suffer from chronically dry skin accompanied by skin rashes, you may need to have your dermatologist take a look. If no obvious infection or skin disease is present, you may be suffering from some form of malnutrition. Without the right mix of essential nutrients, skin becomes dry, flaky, and irritated.

Your cosmetic dermatologist may be able to prescribe topical ointments for temporary relief of itching, which will discourage you from scratching yourself into a dangerous ulceration. But you'll also need nutritional counseling to determine which nutrients you're short of. Vitamins E and B3 are both critical for healthy skin, along with Vitamin C and other antioxidants. You may also need to drink more water to restore moisture to your skin.

Sometimes your skin can be your best friend, especially when it's trying to tell you something important about your health. For additional info ask your cosmetic dermatologist about any odd symptoms your skin is displaying!