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Five Things Your Skin Might Be Telling You
When you're looking closely at your skin, you know when it looks healthy or doesn't, right? But what you may not know is that the way your skin looks can actually tell you quite a bit about your general health.

Skin: the body's largest organ. It protects you by holding fluids in, keeping microbes out and regulating your body temperature. And when you take good care of your skin, you end up looking pretty fabulous. But what you may not realize is that your skin's appearance also tells you about your health.

Says Dr. Sanjiv Saini of MD Dermatology (with locations in Edgewater and Lexington Park, Maryland), "Healthy-looking skin is often an indication of a healthy person, while the opposite is true of someone who has health conditions." 

What can your skin tell you about your health? We've isolated five key messages.


1. You need iron. Pale skin is a common indication of anemia, which results from iron deficiency. Additionally, anemia can be a symptom of other diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, so any instance of anemia warrants a doctor's visit. Of course, not all pale-skinned individuals are anemic -- some are naturally fair-skinned! But if you're not normally pale and you notice a lightening in your complexion, it can be a sign that you lack the necessary iron in your diet.

2. You need water. If you don't drink enough water, your skin may look flaky, tight and dry. Thankfully, this is a quick fix: Get more water into your daily regimen, and your skin will bounce back to normal.

3. You're too stressed. Stress can have a nasty variety of effects on the body, one of which is inflammation. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that stress has an inflammatory impact on the skin, which may lead to conditions like rosacea, psoriasis and acne. Reduce your stress and your skin will thank you!

4. You have thyroid problems. A yellowish tint to the skin can be a sign of thyroid dysfunction. The yellowish tone comes from increased beta-carotene levels in the blood, which occurs when the thyroid is underactive. If you notice a yellowing in your complexion, consult with your doctor.

5. You need omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an important food staple, which you can get from foods like walnuts, sardines and flaxseeds. If your skin is dull and dry, it may be a sign that you're not getting enough omega-3s. Load up on the good stuff!


"Pay more attention to your skin beyond just adding moisturizer," encourages Dr. Saini. "What you see can be signs of something bigger that needs to be addressed. And when in doubt, see a doctor so that you can be sure it's not a sign of something major."