The skin is the body’s largest organ, and it’s the only one anyone else can see. As such, both healthy and ailing skin can make strong first impressions. What you might not realize is that in some cases, they’re more than skin deep.
Part of the problem is that as people age, their skin’s appearance changes. Unfortunately, even the strongest sunscreen and most diligent at-home skin care practices won’t put a stop to that. Reducing the visible effects of skin aging takes a visit to our skin wellness center in Knoxville, TN.
The skin isn’t just the first part of the body to show its age, either. Whether people are aware of it or not, they also make judgments about others’ health based on the quality of their skin. What you may find strange is that an act that seems like judging a book by its cover may actually have more to it than meets the eye.
Skin Damage As a Part of Aging
The skin evolved to act as a protective barrier between the outside world and sensitive internal organs. As such, it is exposed to toxins, allergens, UV light, and all kinds of contaminants that could cause substantial damage if they made it into the body.
The problem is that even the best sunscreen and at-home skincare routine in the world won’t prevent 100% of the damage that can occur as a result of exposure to all of these harmful substances. As we age, the skin inevitably starts to show visible signs of all that damage. In other words, some level of skin damage, including fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and discoloration is normal.
If you’re still young, and your skin is already beginning to show signs of serious aging, there might be something more wrong. A combination of stress, poor diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, high levels of exposure to environmental toxins, and genetic factors is likely to blame. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce or even reverse the visible signs of premature aging. You can learn about them on our website.
Common Skin Problems
There are dozens of things that can go wrong with the skin, but most of them come up only rarely. To keep things strictly in the realm of the highly probable and avoid creating angst over skin conditions that can be devastating but are almost certainly not going to come up over the course of your lifetime, we’ll stick to discussing the most common skin problems. They include:
- Dry skin
- Skin discoloration
As with the signs of aging, some amount of trouble with all of these conditions can be normal. We can help you with minor skin issues here at our med spa. However, if you’re suffering from a severe skin condition with recent onset and aren’t sure whether it’s indicative of underlying problems like those described below, you shouldn’t hesitate about scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician or dermatologist.
Most people experience some problems with dry skin in the winter when humidity levels are low. Dry, itchy skin that doesn’t go away can be a sign of something more serious, though. If your dry skin is causing you substantial discomfort, or it doesn’t respond to the application of over-the-counter moisturizers and other skin care products, you may want to investigate potential underlying causes.
1. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, often referred to by the general public as eczema, is a chronic skin condition that causes people to experience dry skin and itchiness more frequently and severely than normal. Most people with this condition are diagnosed in childhood, but symptoms can begin at any age. Along with dryness and itching, severe eczema can also cause:
- Swelling and inflammation
- Cracked skin
- Clear fluid weeping from the skin
- Crusting and scaling
If you’re worried that you might have atopic dermatitis, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. There may be medications that can help.
2. Hormonal Issues
The thyroid plays a vital role in regulating hormones. People who suffer from hypothyroidism often experience changes in dermal moisture levels as a result of their altered hormone levels, often due to decreased sweating. Hypothyroidism can be a serious condition, so if you notice new problems with fatigue, cold sensitivity, muscle aches or weakness, or other symptoms, ask a doctor to order thyroid testing.
3. Underlying Health Conditions
Sometimes, dry skin is a symptom of more serious issues going on inside the body. People with diabetes, for example, are more prone to developing itchy, dry skin, as are lymphoma patients. To be clear, most people with dry skin are not suffering from these serious, life-threatening diseases. However, a small subset of people feel itchy or struggle to keep their skin moisturized as a result of more serious problems.
New or Severe Acne
Acne breakouts are normal during adolescence. For some people, acne can also persist into adulthood. If you’ve always struggled to contain acne flares in response to certain physical or emotional triggers, don’t worry. Not only is the problem most likely not serious, but it’s also relatively easy to fix. Schedule an appointment to discuss appropriate treatments like chemical peels, facials, and laser therapy.
If you’re dealing with new or significantly worsening acne, there may be something else to blame. Hormone imbalances are the most common culprits. If you’re approaching menopause, hormone replacement therapy might be helpful. In younger women, it’s important to rule out more serious underlying conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Either way, you may want to seek help from both a doctor and an aesthetician.
Persistent skin discoloration is often caused by other health problems. People with chronic illnesses may have skin that looks sallow or even gray, and yellow- or orange-looking skin may indicate potentially serious kidney or liver problems. Even seemingly innocuous brown or tan spots on the skin of the shins can indicate underlying issues with blood circulation that could eventually lead to the development of ulcers. In other words, you should always take sudden issues with skin discoloration seriously.
Dandruff typically occurs on the scalp, although people can get it in their eyebrows and even around their noses. Known medically as seborrhea, this condition should be easy to treat using over-the-counter or prescription medicated shampoos. However, there are some cases where dandruff is a symptom of another underlying issue.
Researchers aren’t yet sure exactly why, but people with neurological conditions seem to be more prone to the development of severe dandruff. The chances are good that if you’ve suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury or are struggling with Parkinson’s disease, you’re already aware of the underlying condition causing worsening dandruff. Using over-the-counter hair and skin care products can still help to alleviate the symptoms.
People with weakened immune systems also seem to be at a higher risk of developing seborrhea. Some researchers believe it is because a weakened immune system leaves them more prone to the development of fungal and bacterial infections that could cause or worsen dandruff. Others think the problem is more intimately tied to disruptions in the skin barrier that occur as a result of immune issues. Autoimmune conditions like scalp psoriasis are often mistaken for seborrhea, as well.
People develop rashes for many reasons. They range in severity from minor allergic reactions due to contact dermatitis, which can be treated easily using topical therapies, to much more serious and potentially chronic disorders such as lupus or Lyme disease. The good news is that it’s usually easy to tell if a rash is due to an underlying health condition.
Most rashes that occur as a result of more serious conditions are accompanied by other, internal symptoms. If you’re struggling with joint pain or have a fever, for example, those can be indications that the rash is a symptom of an internal disease or disorder. Plus, rashes that occur as a result of underlying health problems don’t tend to respond to topical treatments. You should visit a doctor to have your rash examined if:
- The rash extends all over your body.
- You have a fever.
- The rash came on suddenly and is spreading rapidly.
- The rash develops blisters.
- You’re in pain.
- The rash has become infected.
Regardless of what is causing your rash, it’s important to remember that some skin care products can make the problem worse. Avoid applying them to open wounds.
What to Do About Skin-Related Health Problems
If you’re worried that your skin problems might be related to an underlying disorder, you should seek medical attention right away. Skin discoloration, rashes, and even dry skin or acne can all be signs of more serious problems that need to be treated by a specialist.
If, on the other hand, your concerns about your skin are exclusively aesthetic, don’t worry. Whether your skin is suffering as a result of premature aging or you’re already treating an underlying health problem but want help with getting skin-related symptoms under control, the experts here at Skin & Sculpt Medical Spa can help. Browse our website to learn about our skin care services or call to schedule a free consultation.