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Signs of disease written on your face

By Pauline Muindi | February 16th 2020 at 09:08:30 GMT +0300

Face-to-face communication is very important in human interactions because it gives the other person a chance to read your facial expressions. Just by looking at a person’s facial expressions when you talk, you can deduce if they’re happy, angry, sad, disgusted, afraid and so on. Facial expressions which can occur as fast as 1/15 or 1/25 of a second, are a great indicator of what someone’s emotions. 

Similarly, when you go to the doctor, they partly rely on your face to arrive at a diagnosis. Certain symptoms might manifest on your face which may give your doctor vital clues about underlying health conditions.

Here are some signs of disease that could be written on your face:

Dry, flaky lips

Having dry lips is quite common, especially when the weather is dry and windy. This is because that kind of weather tends to suck moisture out of your lips, leaving them dry and unprotected. Your dry lips could also be caused by dehydration. The problem is usually acerbated if you lick your lips.

If you constantly have dry lips despite being well-hydrated and keeping them moisturised, there might be a more serious underlying issue. According to Dr Roshini Raj, MD and the author of What the Yuck?!, flaky lips could be a symptom of a problem that affects sweat gland function, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes. 

Dry lips could also be a symptom of deficiency of certain B vitamins, folic acid deficiency, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis or a drug reaction. If you have done everything in your power to hydrate your lips with no success, it might be time to head to the doctor for a diagnosis.

Excess facial hair

It isn’t normal for women to have excess, highly noticeable facial hair. If a woman has excess facial hair -especially along the jawline, chin, and upper lip - this could mean that they have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a hormone imbalance in which the male hormone levels are elevated. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.

But if you are a woman with a hairy face or body, don’t immediately assume that you have PCOS. Facial hair growth in women could also be caused by insulin resistance. This is because excess insulin in the body can stimulate the ovaries to produce androgens (male hormones). The problem might also occur in women with high cholesterol levels, and those experiencing menopause.

Puffy eyes and eye bags

Have you have been pulling all-nighters working or partying? Then you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that you have bags under your eyes and your eyes look generally puffy. As you age, you are more likely to experience this problem. This is because of the natural weakening of the tissues around your eyes and the muscles supporting your eyelids. Fluid also tends to build up in the space below your eyes, adding to the discolouration and inflammation.

Puffy eyes are usually just a cosmetic problem. However, at times puffy eyes can be associated with seasonal allergies or even a thyroid problem. When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamine. Histamine can cause hive-like reactions on your skin, especially around the eye area.

Puffy eyes could also be a symptom of thyroid trouble. Some patients with hyperthyroidism can get fat around their eyes, which causes puffiness. Puffy eyelids could also be a sign of lupus, dermatomyositis, and other connective tissue diseases.

Facial asymmetry

When your face gets twisted out of shape, this could be one of the first signs of a stroke. “Patients will often describe it like this: ‘I looked in the mirror, and my face looked different,’” says Leana Wen, an emergency physician at George Washington University and the co-author of When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests.

If you’re experiencing a stroke, you might also have trouble speaking. You might also have double vision and weakness in your legs or arms. Facial asymmetry could also be a symptom of Bell’s Palsy, a condition which causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. What causes Bell’s Palsy is still unclear.

Discoloured complexion

A 2009 study by researchers from U.K universities of Bristol and St Andrews, which was published in the Journal of Primatology found that a person’s skin colour affects how healthy, and therefore attractive they appear.

Skin that has a healthy blush, which indicates a healthy circulation suggests strong lungs and heart. Therefore smokers, people with heart conditions or diabetes tend to have less rosy complexions.

Changes in normal skin complexion can give your doctor a clue. For instance, if your face is pale, this could mean that you have anaemia. Similarly, if your skin takes on a yellow tone, you might be suffering from liver disease. If you have unexplained bruises or bluish patches on your skin, this could be as a result of sepsis or taking anticoagulants.

Rashes on your skin

Skin rashes can be itchy and annoying. But generally, they tend to be harmless. When a doctor is performing a check-up, they might take note of rashes which could be a symptom of something more.

For example, iFacial hair growth in women could also be caused by insulin resistance. This is because excess insulin in the body can stimulate the ovaries to produce androgens (male hormones) Itchy clusters of rashes could be a symptom of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the body overreacts to gluten. However, celiac disease is very rare as it affects only 1 per cent of the population.

If you notice a butterfly-shaped rash across your cheekbones and across the bridge of your nose, this could also indicate lupus – an immune disorder. Other health problems which could cause rashes to include allergies, eczema, rosacea, and certain infections.

7.      Any new moles

Do you have any new moles? Have you noticed worrying changes in your old moles? Make sure to mention these changes to your doctor. A new or changed mole could be a sign of something as scary as cancer. To be sure, get it checked by a dermatologist.


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