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Aubrey Wagenseller, MD, FAAD
Chronic Illnesses Affecting Skin
U.S. Dermatology Partners, Fairfax
. https://www.usdermatologypartners.com/

Chronic Illnesses Affecting Skin

The skin is the body’s first line of defense and is a great indicator when it comes to diagnosing health problems in their earliest stages. There are many chronic and systemic illnesses that can present early warning signs in the skin. Below are a few of the many skin symptoms that may signal health problems.

1. Skin Changes in Diabetes

Diabetes can impact the entire body – including the skin. A patient may be considered diabetic if they have high blood glucose (too much sugar in the blood). If you’re struggling with diabetes or prediabetes, you may notice a number of changes to your skin, including: lower leg rashes that may appear as dark, scaly patches on the shin, and tight, thickened skin on the hands and fingers.

2. Skin Discoloration

Changes in skin tone can occur due to external causes such as sun exposure, but there are also internal health conditions that may cause skin discoloration. Yellow skin may be a symptom of jaundice, which is due to increased levels of bilirubin. This can be common in infants but also can present later as a sign of pancreatic or liver disease.

3. Red Cheeks

People can become flushed due to embarrassment, fever, medications and a number of other reasons, but if your face appears to be red often, this may be a sign of another condition.  Possible causes include common skin conditions such as rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis along with other causes such as lupus, which can affect other organs in your body.  Lupus may present with a rash in a butterfly shape across the nose and cheeks.

4. Chronic Itch

There’s nothing strange about itchy skin. Your body is constantly coming into contact with irritants like cold weather, itchy wool sweaters, and allergens. However, changes in kidney function, gall bladder function, and certain medications can also all cause itchiness.

5. Skin Abscesses

Skin abscesses, or boils, are fluid or pus-filled bumps on the skin that can be painful. Abscesses most often occur due to bacterial infection in the skin. Recurrent boils or abscesses in certain areas such as the groin, underarms and under the breasts can be signs of a dermatologic condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa.

Depending on the severity, this condition may be treated with a variety of topical or systemic medications.

Your board-certified dermatologist can assist you with any skin discomforts you may be experiencing.

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