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May 30, 2013

Health is skin deep on Healthy Living

Check your skin! It may not be a regular habit for many but it is very practical advice for everyone: young and old. The skin is the largest organ in our body, it not only serves as a protector of your internal organs but it can also provide subtle hints when there is something wrong internally. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we sit down with a dermatologist to find some of the changes in your skin that may actually be a warning sign.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Our skin says a lot about our health. When health problems are manifesting inside our body; the skin may be first to indicate that something is wrong. Specific changes in the skin like deepening of wrinkles, darkening of skin, rashes on the face can all be linked many underlying conditions.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja, Dermatologist

Jorge Lopes Granja

“Whatever happen in whatever organ will eventually also affect the skin. In the human body everything is connected and the skin is the mirror to your health.”

 

Dermatologist, Dr. Jorge Lopez Granja, shares a few of the most common that he encounters in his practice.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja

“One of the changes that is very common that we see very often that people do not associate with anything else is something we call acanthosis nigricans that means a velvety dirty appearance mostly on the neck, the underarms, groin areas can also be, behind the knees or knuckles. That might be related to inheritance, might be related to obesity and it might be related to diabetes.  This acanthosis nigricans, this hyper pigmentation, darkening of the skin, would also happen in relation to cancers: lung cancers kidney cancers that would be an abrupt onset…and would also happen around the mouth.”

 

Lopez’s recommendation is that when the skin begins to darken in these specific areas, it’s important to check in with the doctor to find out the underlying cause. And don’t just chalk it up to genetics.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja

“For example if you mom has it and you have it, it might be something environmental or it might…if I am obese and my daughter is obese…we’ll both have it…doesn’t mean it’s normal. It may means that we’re both overweight.”

 

Another common skin problem that could be cluing you in to possible health problems is dry skin.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja

“If you are over sixty year so of age, you start to notice that your skin is becoming very dry…been to the doctor several times…this in some cases might be sure to an underlying cancer. So that’s another symptom of the skin.  But again it depends; I’m not saying dry skin leads to cancer…how much of your body is being affected and how bad the itching is. If a patient has dry skin…the patient comes back and says the treatment is not working what I’ll do is get a blood test and skin biopsy… If I know I’m treating it the way it should be treated we always know we have to look for the zebra; to look for something hidden.”

 

From dry itchy skin, to yellow hands and feet, the explanations for these skin changes range from not so serious to critical.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja

“A next thing that is common is something we call carotenemia, it’s when the palms of soles of the feet change to an orange hue. This is due mostly to ingestion of lots of carrots, sweet potatoes …anything that have a yellow color and you eat a lot of it then it’ll give you this color.  Although the same changes can be related to liver disease kidney disease even anorexia nervosa is said to have this but we can’t be clear…and everything.”

 

Common skin problems like bruising and rashes, that are unable to treat, can also be a red flag.

 

Dr. Jorge Lopes Granja

“A next sign of condition is bruising….there is a condition that is lack of vitamin C that’s called scurvy and this usually if you don’t treat it can lead to death.  Any skin affection that looks like a dermatitis or eczema and has been treated properly by a dermatologist…as a rule of thumb…you have to reevaluate…that can be a sign of cancer for example.  Whatever you notice that is changing on your skin should be checked. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

 

And remember that not all skin changes are scary. There are many skin conditions that are normal, less serious and easily treatable.

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