Keeping track of every small change that occurs in your body can be challenging. However, there are 13 very subtle body changes that are easy to ignore, but you should pay attention to. They could be your body’s way of telling you about some serious underlying health problems.
13. A Red Line Visible on Your Nail
Many people don’t understand that your nails can tell you a lot about the status of your health. It’s a good idea to check for a red line down a single or multiple nails. Thomas Knackstedt, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says that a red line is usually harmless and can just indicate the thinning of nails. However, in some instances, it could signify a deeper underlying issue.
Dr. Knackstedt explains that when a red line is visible on multiple nails, it could be caused by an inflammation of the root of the nail due to various reasons, like lichen planus or psoriasis. On the other hand, if only one nail is impacted, the red line may be due to a benign growth in the nail, such as warts, fibroma, or lipoma (fatty tumor). Further, Dr. Knackstedt insists that any change in the red line, such as a thickening of the line, must be assessed by a doctor.
12. Changes in Beauty Marks or Freckles
While freckles and beauty marks do undergo some changes with age, Dr. Knackstedt offers some advice to understand whether these changes point towards something more sinister. He says that knowing the ABCDEs of mole warning signs – Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color (multiple—brown, black, green, blue, red), Diameter (greater than ¼ inch) and Evolution (change) – can assist patients and doctors in diagnosing more severe skin lesions such as melanoma (skin cancer).
11. Dry and Chapped Lips
Chapped lips are a regular occurrence during cold, inclement weather. But they could also be a symptom of actinic cheilitis, which is a pre-cancerous condition that renders the lips dry and chapped. Dr. Knackstedt elaborates that if this type of sun damage is detected early on, the changes to the lips can be addressed and reversed with the cautious use of sun protection and sunscreen.
Crucially, actinic cheilitis can progress to squamous cell carcinoma of the lip if left untreated. People who are exposed to the sun a lot and have a lesion on the lip that does not heal or bleeds must get it evaluated by a doctor.
10. A Stubborn Pimple
According to Bradley Bloom, MD, a dermatologist at Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists, it is important to keep an eye on a pimple that does not go away. He elaborates that a number of patients come to see him with the complaint that a pimple won’t heal or that it starts to bleed.
On further investigation, the pimple turns out to be a manifestation of basal cell carcinoma, which is a common type of skin cancer. Dr. Bloom is a specialist in Mohs micrographic surgery and encounters such cases frequently. He elaborates that Mohs surgery is a convenient solution in such cases with low rates of recurrence.
9. A Persistent Scaly Patch
Though it is common to experience flaky and dry skin during the winter, Dr. Bloom recommends that patients should be aware of scaly patches that are persistent or recurring. Dr. Bloom explains that while this could most likely be eczema, it could also turn out to be actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous lesion created by sun damage, specifically UV rays.
These lesions are initially noticed as rough patches of skin on areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the lips, the back of the hands, a bald scalp, or the face. Dr. Bloom encourages patients to use an SPF lotion all the time to prevent severe sun damage and to have these lesions addressed before they turn into a more serious condition. Be mindful of more discreet places that could be affected by skin cancer but are not easily visible.
8. Thinning of Eyebrows
People do experience hair loss as a side effect of aging. However, Dr. Bloom insists on watching out for thinning eyebrows. He states that thinning eyebrows could be a result of hypothyroidism, which warrants a visit to the doctor as well as lab tests. Hair loss resulting from a thyroid condition requires the underlying condition to be rectified. The treatments for thyroid conditions include surgery, drugs, herbal supplements, and a change in diet. Additionally, be mindful of these silent indications of thyroid problems.
7. Cold Sores
As per Dr. Knackstedt, more than 60 percent of US residents harbor the herpes simplex virus, which is the cause of cold sores. He recommends that patients suffering from big ulcers or lesions that do not heal in a few days get them assessed by a doctor to eliminate the possibility of autoimmune conditions and less common infections.
6. Darkening Skin in Body Creases
Acanthosis nigricans is a condition where the skin in the creases of the armpits, neck, or groin begins to darken. Dr. Bloom advises that this small change may be a symptom of insulin resistance, which requires immediate assessment by a doctor. People experiencing this kind of darkening are at a heightened risk for type 2 diabetes.Related: 7 Most Common Symptoms of Diabetes
5. White Spots on the Nails
Dr. Knackstedt notes that white spots on the nails are a frequent complaint. Most often, the reasons behind these spots are not concerning. But in some instances, these spots warrant a thorough investigation. Certain patients have significant and diffuse changes in the nail that can be termed as paleness. In such cases, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, or vitamin and protein deficiency could be the causes, and these need to be treated by a physician.
4. Calloused or Yellowing Skin
Cracked or calloused skin on the soles of the feet could indicate a vitamin A deficiency. This fat-soluble vitamin is vital for a good immune system and healthy eyes. This deficiency can be corrected by taking vitamin A doses of 30,000 to 40,000 IU for two or three months.
While serious yellowing of the skin is a symptom of jaundice and requires immediate medical attention, a mild yellow tint in the skin may point towards a B12 deficiency. It is recommended that everyone, specifically people over the age of 50 and vegetarians of all ages should take a minimum of 150 mcg of B12 every day.
3. Brittle or Weak Nails
Brittle and weak nails can be a symptom of inadequate protein intake. Ensure that your diet contains adequate amounts of good quality protein from egg whites, oily fish, legumes, and beans.
Also, weak nails can be due to a biotin deficiency. This situation can easily be corrected through biotin supplements. However, extremely brittle nails can be an indication of thyroid disease and should be assessed by a doctor.Related: What Moons on Your Nails Warn You About Your Health Problems
2. Burning Mouth
A feeling of burning in your lips, tongue or entire mouth is known as burning mouth syndrome. This can be caused by simple activities such as using a harsh mouthwash, brushing too hard or ill-fitting dentures. However, this syndrome could also be due to an iron, B-complex, or zinc deficiency. Increasing the intake of B vitamins and zinc supplements can correct this situation efficiently.
1. Diagonal Creases in the Earlobes
According to some studies, diagonal creases in the earlobes could indicate a higher risk of heart disease. Don’t panic if you happen to have such creases. Certain experts believe that this is merely a genetic variant and nothing more. Some people also understand these creases to be age-related.
To err on the side of caution, it is advisable to take precautions to guard yourself against heart disease by exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, managing stress levels, and taking supplements to protect your heart, such as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and coenzyme Q10.
While health problems can appear to crop up suddenly, our bodies do provide various signs of these illnesses beforehand. Effectively, the body is always talking to you, providing subtle clues about the problems around the corner. Paying heed to these signs can help you avert some serious health problems in the future.Related: Why You Should Take Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements