Your skin covers your entire body, serving as a protective barrier against outside harm from germs, ultraviolet (UV) light, and injuries. It’s also a sensory organ and helps regulate body temperature.
But as your body’s first layer of defense, your skin is highly susceptible to damage and serious health conditions like skin cancer. While you may think your skin looks healthy, there are subtle warning signs that may mean otherwise.
At Associated Skin Care Specialists, our board-certified dermatologists can tell a lot about your health when examining your skin.
Here, we want to share some of the warning signs that indicate that your skin’s not as healthy as you might think.
Areas of hyperpigmentation
Do you have areas of darkening or discoloration on your skin? This is called hyperpigmentation and occurs when your skin makes too much melanin, a skin pigment. Your skin overproduces melanin as a means of protection.
Areas of hyperpigmentation are usually signs of sun-damaged skin. Overexposure to the sun changes skin tone and strength, leading to age spots, lines, and wrinkles. It also increases the risk of skin cancer.
Though you may consider your uneven skin tone a cosmetic concern, we look at it as a potential risk factor for skin cancer.
New or changing moles
Moles are small, dark skin growths. They’re common and harmless in most cases. However, moles can also be a sign of melanoma, an aggressive and deadly type of skin cancer.
We use the ABCDE acronym when evaluating moles for skin cancer:
- Asymmetrical shape
- Border that’s irregular
- Color that is changing or uneven
- Diameter that is larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolving mole over time
If you have any new moles or moles that are changing in shape, size, or color, you need to get them checked out. Early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma increases your chances of a full recovery.
It’s not unusual to have itchy skin every once in a while. But if the itch lasts more than six weeks, it may indicate an underlying skin condition.
Many skin issues can cause itchiness: eczema, psoriasis, and infections like shingles or ringworm. Itchy skin can also indicate other health issues like diabetes and thyroid disorder.
A concern we have about itchy skin is that the constant need to scratch may cause a break in the skin that puts you at risk of infection.
Dry skin is a common skin condition that may occur from any number of benign causes like dry weather or showering too much. Moisturizing your skin and shortening your shower time may alleviate the dryness.
Though not always a serious health concern, dry skin can crack, providing an entry point for germs that may lead to an infection. Dry skin can also trigger a flare-up of atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin condition that causes an itchy, red rash.
Your skin tells us a lot about your health. Don’t ignore the signs. If you have concerns about the look or health of your skin, we can help.
We offer comprehensive dermatology care throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, with offices in Blaine, Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie, New Brighton, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Call the office nearest you today to schedule a consultation with our experienced board-certified dermatologists.
We also have an office in Fridley, Minnesota where we do dermatology research and lab work.