Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Healthy Really Looks Like Pt. 2

Skin - If your skin is a yellow-orange color, it may be a condition called carotenemia, a result of overeating foods rich in the pigment beta-carotene, like sweet potatoes and carrots. If your eyes are yellow too, you're probably jaundiced. Black smudges around your neck, knees, armpits, fingers or toes are a sign you should get your blood sugar checked. These discolorations called acanthosis nigricans can be harmless side effects of oral contraceptives or hormone replacements, but they can also be a sign of pre-diabetes.

Brown splotches is probably melasma, which develops when high levels of estrogen turbocharge the color-making cells called malanocytes. Estrogen-based contraceptives can cause this, as well as pregnancy. Darker skin is more susceptible because its color-producing skin cells are more responsive to light than the ones in fairer skin. Your dermatologist may suggest switching to a contraceptive that doesn't contain estrogen and using sunscreen with a mineral block like zinc oxide or titanium oxide -- unlike many chemical sunscreens, these block the entire light spectrum to prevent further darkening. Lightening creams, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or laser treatments can help lighten any dark patches you've already got.

White patches could be new skin forming after a wound that you've had in those spots. Otherwise, see your dermatologist in case it's vitiligo (autoimmune disorder) or tinea versicolor (overgrowth of a yeast that lives in sebaceous glands). Pinkish-red across the cheeks, nose and chin may be rosacea, a skin condition that dilates blood vessels and especially affects fair-skinned people.

Fingers and Nails - Fingers should be the same color as the rest of the skin on your body. Nails are clear. Brown/black streaks on your nail? If it's a splotch, you probably bruised your finger. But, any mark that starts at the cuticle and runs the length of the nail should be seen by a dermatologist. It could mean melanoma. It's rare for fair-skinned people to get this form of cancer under their nails, but up to 40 percent of melanomas in darker-skinned people can be found there. Bluish-white fingers that later turn red? You may have Raynaud's disease, meaning the blood vessels in your fingers spasm, cutting off circulation in your digits. This usually happens when you're cold or stressed. Once the vessels relax, they turn pink to red as the blood rushes back in. Raynaud's is often connected with injury or autoimmune conditions such as scleroderma and lupus, so see your doc if this is a problem for you.

Source: Health Magazine

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