Ever had a sudden acne breakout or a rash that came out of nowhere? If you answered yes, chances are you may be at risk of more serious illnesses. More often than not, prolonged acne, dry patches, or rashes are early indications of serious conditions that you should get checked out immediately. Here are 8 skin problems that may indicate more serious health conditions.
8 Skin Problems That Indicate Severe Health Conditions
1. Extremely Dry Patches
Dry patches are common, especially when the weather is a little colder than usual or in winter. They are caused by the breaking down of your skin’s protective barrier, resulting in a loss of water from the skin. However, if you have had extremely dry patches for a while and they itch terribly, you may have what is known as hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid. Your thyroid needs to function well for your body to function properly, so hypothyroidism could spell trouble for you. This condition also comes with other symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and constipation.1
2. Excessive Itching
While anything ranging from insect bites to allergies can make you itch, intense itching is worrisome. Severe itching, also known as pruritus, is a common symptom among people whose kidneys are failing, especially in those who are in the late stages of kidney failure.2 In some cases, excessive itching may also mean celiac disease, anemia, or diabetes.
3. Perpetual Blushing
If you look like you’re blushing perpetually and have highly sensitive skin, chances are you have rosacea. While the causes for this condition are yet to be discovered, factors like cold weather, spicy food, alcohol, and stress have been found to make it worse. It may also be accompanied by acne-like breakouts.3 While there is no known cure for this condition, it can be controlled to a certain extent by steering clear of triggers.
4. Abnormally Pale Skin
Paleness that develops in the skin and lips over a period of time is usually an indication of anemia. This condition is caused by a low red blood cell count, resulting in a low blood iron level. Apart from pale skin, those with anemia also show symptoms like excessive tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.4 Sudden paleness, however, may be an indication of something more serious like internal bleeding or leukemia – cancer of the blood or bone marrow.
5. Dark, Velvety Patches
If you start developing purplish dark patches on your skin, you may be suffering from a condition called acanthosis nigricans. These patches, which have a thick velvety texture, commonly form over time on the armpits, back of the neck, elbows, knees, and knuckles. Acanthosis nigricans is usually an indication of insulin resistance, which is an obvious indicator of type 2 diabetes.5 If the patches form suddenly, however, they could be an indication of cancer.
6. Sudden Development Of Freckles
If you’ve been sunbathing for a while, you may develop tan or light brown spots on your skin commonly known as freckles. Freckles are your body’s way of protecting itself from sun damage. Developing them after sunburn may indicate a heightened risk of skin cancer, which demands an immediate visit to the dermatologist.
7. Sudden Acne Breakout
Acne is a common skin condition in both children and adults that doesn’t go away easily. It causes pimples and spots on the face, chest, shoulders, or back that may worsen if you’re constantly under stress or on your period. Hormonal level fluctuations are often the reason for adult acne. And women tend to experience these fluctuations more often than men.
Sudden acne, especially along the chin and jaw, may be an indication of a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women. PCOS is characterized by enlarged ovaries with many fluid-like sacs. If you suffer from this condition, you may also experience other symptoms like irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, and excessive unwanted hair growth.6 PCOS makes it hard for women to conceive.
8. Itchy Rashes
Have an itchy rash on your knees or elbows? You may have celiac disease. This disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues. It is characterized by inflammation of the small intestine causing the inability to absorb nutrients. About 20 percent of celiac disease patients may experience an itchy rash accompanied by blisters that burst when scratched. The condition is known as dermatitis herpetiformis.7
If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately so that the serious illnesses they are indications of can be treated in the early stages.
|↑2||Berger, Timothy G., and Martin Steinhoff. “Pruritus and renal failure.” In Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 99-100. Frontline Medical Communications, 2011.|
|↑3||Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑5||Acanthosis nigricans. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑6||Polycystic ovary syndrome. NHS Choices.|
|↑7||Symptoms of coeliac disease. NHS Choices.|