surgeon to know which changes (sun spots, motion and
severe psoriasis are at 46% increased risk for diabetes.
smile wrinkles, smoker’s lines around the mouth, red veins
Although we are still just learning about some of these risk
on the nose, etc.) really bother you so you can target
factors, it does seem that successfully treating psoriasis
your treatments, and your cosmetic budget, for the most
substantially decreases these risks.
benefit. Watching the skin can provide information about your The other and more worrisome side of sun damage is skin
overall health just like watching your blood pressure or
cancer. Even if you are not concerned cosmetically about
cholesterol. Since there are potentially many causes of all
these skin changes, it is important to watch for:
of these symptoms, see your dermatologist if they arise.
• Spots or bumps that grow, are frequently irritated,
Lastly, we often treat skin problems for the psychological
damage that they cause. Anyone who suffered from
• Moles that change color or shape
substantial acne as a child, vitiligo (loss of skin pigment),
• Sores that do not heal in a month or two
or rashes on the hands or face can attest to their sometimes devastating impact on social, romantic, and
These may not just be annoyances but potentially serious
skin cancer that can threaten the look and function of your ears, nose, or other skin and even your life. Since all
Adolescents, who are still developing their self image,
skin cancer is more easily treated if caught early, never
are particularly susceptible. For example, 44% of patients
hesitate to see your dermatologist for a concerning spot.
with acne reported significant anxiety and nearly 1 in 5 showed signs of depression. Patients with psoriasis are at
Another reason to investigate and treat skin conditions is
double the risk of suicidal thoughts and also at increased
that some may also be a window into underlying illnesses.
risk for social isolation and alcohol abuse. There can also
Persistent rashes, hair loss, or itching can indicate a variety
be a vicious cycle as stress from severe skin disease can
of medical conditions that can be mild to life-threatening,
make it worse, leading to more isolation and depression.
If your skin condition is causing you or your child serious psychological stress, it is more than “just pimples,” and
• Thyroid problems - hair loss, dry skin
you should discuss treatment with your dermatologist.
• Autoimmune diseases - sun sensitivity, persistent
There is good evidence that improving these skin diseases
rashes, hair loss with scars • Diabetes - darkening of the neck or underarms, psoriasis
quickly alleviates the associated depression and negative psychological consequences.
• Liver disease - many broken blood vessels on the skin, persistently red palms, yellow skin • High cholesterol - yellow growths on the eyelids or elbows and knees • Cancer - dramatic thickening of the palms and soles, bizarre and persistent itching or rashes
It can be hard to know if something is “just something to live with” or a treatable skin condition. A good relationship with your doctor can help you get answers to these questions, find treatment for bothersome issues, and know when your skin challenges are potential signs of serious underlying disease.
We also know that the inflammation associated with some common skin diseases may herald damage to other
Cheers to a new year in which you make caring for your
organs in the body. For example, people with psoriasis
skin a priority, improving the way you look, the way you
(which affects about 7 million Americans) are at over 50%
feel, and your overall health!
increased risk of stroke or heart attack and those with
IN FLUENTIAL 19