Skin and its relation to some systemic diseases | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 17, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 17, 2016

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Skin and its relation to some systemic diseases

Skin is the largest organ in our body. There are many systemic diseases which manifest themselves on the skin, and there are also certain diseases, which if not treated properly, will cause skin lesions.

We have seen numerous patients who are obese and develop darkened velvety skin around the neck, armpits and other body folds. They will develop stretch marks on their body, fluid retention on their legs, rupture of leg veins and they may also develop varicose veins. Retained moisture in the body leads to bacterial and fungal infections of the skin. With proper treatment, nutrition and weight loss, usually these conditions resolve themselves.

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Patients suffering from diabetes are also very prone to different types of skin disorders. This happens mainly if the blood sugar is uncontrolled. These patients are more prone to bacterial and fungal infections like impetigo and candida. Usually the impetigo infections present themselves as round oozing patches which may grow larger day by day on the exposed part of the body and can also become crusted. Candidiasis is also common in diabetic patients. Although candida is a common organism in our digestive tract, it manifests as oral ulcers when the blood sugar is high and the patient is immunocompromised. Diseases like diabetic dermopathy are also common and their presence is marked by light brown patches over the shin area which is also very itchy. Foot ulcers are also common in diabetics. These are due to neuropathic and vascular complications of the disease. Due to peripheral neuropathy, diabetics lose their pain sensations mainly in the foot or legs. Pressure from shoes, cuts and injuries will not be felt and may spread, leading to ulceration.  If not cared for properly then the ulcer can spread and lead to fatal consequences. Smoking also aggravates the condition. Diabetic patients with uncontrolled blood sugar are also prone to secondary infections of the skin, so patients should take care of controlling their blood sugar, give up smoking, and take regular care of skin ulcers, nails, and even feet.

There are some other common systemic diseases which have skin manifestations. Some of these have been listed below.

For hyperlipidemia, the patient may show signs of manifestations like xanthelasma, characterised by flat yellowish deposits around the eyelids. In other parts of the body, they are present as roundish papules or nodules. These can be treated by excision of the lesions.

Cutaneous presentation of patients suffering from liver disease show yellow colouration if jaundice is present and there may be itching of skin depending on type. In case of hypothyroidism, the patient's skin may become cool, doughy, dry and puffy. Also there may be hair loss and per-orbital oedema. In hyperthyroidism, the skin is warm, moist and there may be flushing of the skin and pretibial odema.

It is very important to take care of our skin by keeping it clean and properly moisturised.  Sometimes, we overlook small changes in the skin thinking that it's not important, but they may be signs of some systemic disease, therefore it's always wise to consult with a dermatologist and get the proper diagnosis.

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