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Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it protects you from all sorts of hazards. It blocks the sun’s rays and prevents germs, toxins, and other harmful substances from entering your body. It helps regulate your body temperature, works with your immune system, and aids in vitamin production. Something you may not realize, though, is that your skin can tell you quite a bit about your health.

  • Skin that’s itchy or dry: If moisturizer isn’t helping, you may have eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. This can be itchy and cause cracked skin and is often accompanied by asthma and hay fever.
  • Hair growing where it doesn’t usually grow: If you’re noticing hair growth that’s atypical for your gender, it could be a sign of a deeper issue. Women with hair on the face, chin, and just below the belly button may be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and should see a doctor.
  • Sun-damaged skin: Sunspots and freckles are the results of lifelong sun exposure. Sun damage can sometimes lead to skin cancer, so if you notice any new or unusual spots on your skin, see your dermatologist for a cancer screening exam.
  • Changes in your fingernails: Sometimes nails can change color, develop dark spots, or change in shape. This can be the result of a wide range of ailments, from vitamin deficiency to liver disease and lupus. If your nails curve downward and your fingers are swollen at the ends, you might have cardiovascular trouble in the form of a heart infection, heart disease, or lung problem. Red and purple lines under the nails can also indicate heart trouble, especially when accompanied by a fever and an irregular heartbeat.
  • Swollen extremities: Fluid buildup (edema) in the feet and legs can be the result of the heart functioning improperly.
  • Skin that’s blue or purple: Sometimes, a person’s skin turns blue or purple because of extreme cold. If it happens when you’re warm, your blood may not be getting enough oxygen because of a blockage in a blood vessel. If you notice a blue or purple net-like pattern, it could be a sign of a disease called cholesterol embolization syndrome. It’s important to contact a doctor because this condition can damage your tissues and organs.
  • Waxy growths on your skin: There are different types of waxy growths you may experience. Yellowish-orange, waxy growths on your skin can be the result of unhealthy cholesterol levels. Clusters of waxy bumps that suddenly appear can indicate high cholesterol as well, but they can also be a sign of diabetes. Smooth waxy lumps can happen if you’ve got protein buildup in your heart or another organ.
  • Painful lumps on your fingers and/or toes: An infection in your heart or blood vessels can cause these lumps, which can last a few hours or several days. These are called Osler nodes, and they need the attention of a doctor because a heart infection can get serious enough to require surgery.
  • Discoloration on your palms and soles of your feet: When your soles and palms have reddish or brown discoloration, you may have an infection in a blood vessel or your heart.

When you need help caring for your skin, contact Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology to schedule a consultation. We’re committed to providing superior, professional skincare in a manner that’s practical, efficient, and compassionate. With over 30 years of experience providing dermatological services in Salt Lake City, we provide a variety of services, from cosmetic skincare to treatment for skin cancer. Our team of board-certified dermatologists and licensed cosmetic service providers are here to provide you with the care you need in a comfortable, professional atmosphere. Call (801) 682-4715 or contact us through our website.