What Your Physical Apperance Tells About Your Health

Good health often is reflected in an attractive, youthful appearance. So you might be tempted to blame aging and stress for facial lines, unsightly fingernails, or hair loss when, in fact, these flaws can signal underlying health issues. 

Here are 13 physical signs that trouble may be lurking beneath the skin's surface.

Although wrinkles are inevitable, they also may be a sign of osteoporosis. Is your furrowed brow and grooved mouth ratting out your bones? Surprising new research reveals an association between wrinkles and bone health in early-menopausal women. 

The worse the wrinkling, the greater the risk of lower bone density. Most wrinkles are the result of aging, but excessive exposure to cigarette smoke or the sun can speed the process.

Pitted Nails
Nails that are pitted, deformed, or discolored (yellow-brown), or nails that thicken or separate from the nail bed, can point to many health problems.

Nail changes are common in people with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition; psoriatic arthritis, a related joint condition; and alopecia areata, a type of patchy hair loss.

Pitting has been reported in patients with Reiter’s syndrome, a type of arthritis, and incontinentia pigmenti, a genetic skin condition.

Hair Loss
Pregnancy, stress, disease, medications, and changes in hormones all can contribute to hair loss. 

Among women in particular, dry, thinning hair may be a sign of an underactive or overactive thyroid. A simple blood test can check whether the body is making normal amounts of thyroid hormone.

Yellow Eyes
Eyes are the windows intoi your health; so when your eyes —specifically the whites of your eyes—turn yellow, there's reason to suspect trouble.

In adults, it can be a sign of liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis. It can also mean that the ducts that ferry bile away from the liver are blocked. Anyone with yellowing of the eyes should see their physician for further evaluation.

Body Hair
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of increased hair growth in women of childbearing age, can cause infertility and infrequent, irregular, or absent periods. More than 70% of women with PCOS have hirsutism, or excess hair growth, typically appearing on the face, chest, stomach, back, hands, or feet.

Swollen Feet
Many conditions, including sprains, strains, injuries, and infections, can cause feet and ankles to balloon. Pregnancy, obesity, and certain medications may cause fluid retention in the lower extremities.

If you're one of the 5 million Americans with heart failure, you may be retaining fluid because of your heart’s poor pumping action. Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet is a classic symptom of this condition.

Large Hands and Feet
All are classic signs of acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that occurs in adults when the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone. 

 It is such a rare disorder—and because changes in bone and soft tissue occur slowly over time—it doesn't dawn on people and often goes undetected.

A Foul Mouth
Bad teeth and gums aren't just signs of poor oral hygiene. Your mouth could be saying nasty things about your heart and bones.

In 2010, Scottish researchers reporting in the British Medical Journal found that tooth brushing lowers the risk of heart disease. Compared with twice-a-day brushers, people who brushed less frequently had a 70% greater risk of heart disease or death from heart disease. Tooth loss also can signal osteoporosis. Missing teeth may mean jawbone density can no longer support a mouthful of pearly whites.

Facial Flush
You might look red in the face, but it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Facial redness with acne-like skin sores are common symptoms of rosacea, a chronic skin condition. 

Although the exact cause is not known, people with rosacea appear red and flushed in the face due to blood-vessel enlargement. Over time, bumps and pimples may form and the nose may grow bulbous.

Cracked Lips
Your lips can say a lot about your health. Severely cracked, dry lips may be a reaction to medication, an occupational hazard (if you're a brass musician), or a symptom of allergy, infection, or other conditions. Cracking at the corners of the mouth may be a symptom of Sjögren’s (pronounced SHOW-grens) syndrome, an immune system disorder. Sjögren’s causes dry eyes and dry mouth, as well as joint pain and dry skin.

Dark skin patches
A ring of dark skin at the back of the neck may look like it's crying out for a good scrubbing. But in reality, it may be acanthosis nigricans, a condition in which the skin appears darker and thicker—even velvety—along body creases.

People with insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity or, in rare cases, cancer, can develop these dark patches. Although not a definitive sign of diabetes, it makes you think twice and do more workup.

Butterfly Rash
A rash is like a red flag. It's your body's way of saying that something is not right. 
There are all kinds of rashes, of course, but one in particular stands out. It stretches across both cheeks in the shape of a butterfly and has a sunburn-like appearance. This rash is a classic symptom of lupus, an immune-system disorder that affects the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. 

Sometimes a mole is just a harmless growth. Other moles signal the presence of skin cancer. Which ones mean trouble?

Look for growths that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, vary in color, have a diameter larger than 6 millimeters (one-quarter inch), or are changing or evolving. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, may exhibit one or more of these features. People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes on their skin.

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