While melanoma, psoriasis, rosacea, and allergies are conditions that commonly show up on the skin, there are systemic diseases and disorders that may also manifest in your skin. Oftentimes, the skin can give clues to conditions that affect other parts of your body. The following are several medical conditions that may show up on your skin before you even realize you have been afflicted by a disease.
10. Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease occurs when your adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol or aldosterone hormones. This rare condition can be life-threatening, as the body requires cortisol to turn food into energy, respond to stress, and maintain healthy immune function. The hormone aldosterone is necessary for maintaining a proper balance of sodium and potassium levels and keeping your blood pressure regulated. One of the early signs of Addison’s disease may be a darkening of the skin, called hyperpigmentation. Other signs are extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, and low blood sugar.
9. Celiac Disease
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a severe, itchy, blistery skin rash that is a sign of celiac disease. Not all celiac patients have this skin condition, which is a part of the immune system’s abnormal response to gluten. In fact, only 15-25% of celiac patients experience this rash, which may be confused with bug bites or allergic reactions. Dermatitis herpetiformis typically affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and buttocks. Men are more likely than women to suffer from this disorder, which is treated with topical antibiotics followed by the avoidance of gluten.Related: 7 Most Common Symptoms of Diabetes
There are several ways in which diabetes symptoms may occur on the skin. Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition in which creases of skin on the back of the neck, armpit, or groin become dark, thick, and velvety. This condition appears to be related to insulin levels in the blood and may be an early warning sign of diabetes. Other skin-related symptoms of diabetes may be frequent skin infections, the appearance of blisters, dark or thickened patches of skin, excessive skin tags, and raised bumps on the skin. Consult your doctor if you notice sudden or extreme changes in your skin.
7. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also suffer from rheumatoid vasculitis. RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can occur in those who have had RA. This vasculitis can result in sores and purplish bruising on the skin. In addition, rheumatoid nodules are lumps that may occur under the skin of rheumatoid patients in the fingers, elbows, forearms, knees. According to the Mayo Clinic, RA may also show up in the form of skin rash, swollen joints, stiffness, and loss of appetite.
6. Heart Disease
The American Academy of Dermatology lists 12 symptoms of heart disease that may show up on your skin. Swelling of the ankles is one sign that your heart is not able to effectively pump blood through your body. Skin that has become discolored and turned a purplish hue may indicate a blocked blood vessel and lack of oxygen to the area. Yellowish deposits of fat on your eyelids may indicate high levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream. A purplish netlike pattern on the skin that doesn’t disappear when your skin warms up may indicate blocked arteries.
5. Hepatitis C
Lichen planus is a type of bumpy rash that can be a sign of infection with hepatitis C. On the skin of the arms or legs, these bumps are usually purple in color, flat, and painless. When this rash occurs in the soft tissues of the mouth or vagina, it can cause painful sores. A blood test can determine whether this rash is due to hepatitis. Other causes of lichen planus may be a flu vaccine, exposure to certain chemicals, pain relievers, or even certain prescription medications.
4. Thyroid Disease
The occurrence of chronic hives may be a symptom of an underactive thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This can lead to excessive fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and muscle aches. Graves’ disease is a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes overactive. Some people with Graves’ disease may experience a thickening of the skin on their shins. This condition is known as pretibial myxedema. Other more common signs of Graves’ disease are a fast and irregular heartbeat, enlarged thyroid gland, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping.Related: 15 Thyroid Disease Symptoms You’re Ignoring
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Patients with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may also suffer from skin conditions. Pyoderma gangrenosum is a condition in which painful sores or ulcers form on the skin of the legs or other areas. This condition typically occurs in individuals suffering from other autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or rheumatoid arthritis. While these sores are unsightly and painful, they are not contagious and cannot be spread to others. Always contact your doctor if you develop skin wounds that seem to rapidly grow or spread.
Lupus is another autoimmune disorder that may show up on your skin. The Lupus Foundation of America lists several types of rashes that lupus patients may display. The butterfly rash of lupus, called acute cutaneous lupus, is a characteristic rash that appears across the cheekbones and bridge of the nose. Discoid lupus appears as round lesions on the scalp or face. Subacute cutaneous lupus looks more like patches of red, scaly skin. This rash appears more commonly on the arms, shoulders, and neck. In addition to rashes, lupus patients may be more susceptible to sunburn and reactions from sun exposure.
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
A diet deficient in necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can cause hair loss and leave your skin looking dry, scaly, and rough. A lack of B vitamins can result in hair loss, patchy, red skin, and increased fungal skin infections, according to Podiatry Today. Iron deficiency can leave an individual with pale skin, hair loss, and brittle or deformed nails. A lack of zinc can also cause thinning hair, inflamed skin, and dry or scaly patches on the skin.Related: 9 Life-Threatening Conditions That May Present with Skin Rashes