top of page

Beyond Beauty: Aesthetic Signs of Underlying Health Issues

 

aesthetic signs of health issue

Beauty is more than skin deep, and sometimes, our bodies send signals through aesthetic changes that could be indicators of underlying health issues. Let's uncover the subtle signs that your body might be trying to tell you something about your overall health.

 

Aesthetic issues:

Xanthelasma


xanthelasma

Xanthelasma is a skin condition characterized by yellowish, cholesterol-rich deposits that typically appear around the eyelids. These soft, raised patches are often symmetrical and can vary in size. While xanthelasma itself is usually harmless, it can be indicative of underlying health issues, particularly elevated cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.

 

Typically, this condition is observed in individuals in their middle-aged or older years, and it appears more frequently in women than in men. It is most prevalent among individuals with familial roots in Asia or the Mediterranean.

 

Approximately half of those with xanthelasma have elevated cholesterol levels. Your likelihood of developing xanthelasma is higher if you have:

-       High LDL (“bad” cholesterol) or low HDL (“good” cholesterol)

-       Inherited high cholesterol, referred to as familial hypercholesterolemia by doctors

-       Primary biliary cirrhosis, a liver condition which can elevate cholesterol levels

 

Xanthelasma can also be associated with diabetes and thyroid dysfunction. It can manifest even in individuals with cholesterol levels considered within the normal range. Hence, getting a blood test can be helpful if you have xanthelasma.

 

While treatment for xanthelasma is generally not deemed medically essential, people may opt for treatment due to cosmetic concerns. Addressing the root cause, such as effectively managing elevated lipid levels, can contribute to the successful management of this condition. Aesthetic treatments available include ablative laser and surgical excision. Treatments are effective, but there is also possibility of the growths recurring, particularly in cases of inherited high cholesterol.

 

Acanthosis nigricans


acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by the development of dark, thickened, and velvety patches on the skin. These patches typically appear in areas with folds or creases, such as the neck, armpits, groin, and the back of the joints. Acanthosis nigricans is not a disease itself, but is often associated with underlying health issues.

 

The precise cause of acanthosis nigricans remains uncertain, but is primarily associated with conditions of insulin resistance. This correlation is often observed in conjunction with obesity, diabetes, and various metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, generalized lipodystrophy and underactive thyroid. Sometimes, acanthosis nigricans may have a hereditary component, inherited from parents, or be a component of a genetic syndrome. Additionally, it can be induced by certain medications, including oral contraceptives or steroids. Rarely, there is a link with an internal malignancy. People with malignant acanthosis nigricans tend to be middle-aged, not obese, and lesions develop abruptly.

 

There is no treatment specifically tailored for acanthosis nigricans, but some treatments that can be beneficial in reducing the appearance of acanthosis nigricans include:

-       Skincare products designed to lighten the skin and enhance the turnover rate of skin cells, thereby assisting in the clearance of the skin.

-       Laser treatment

-       Chemical peel

 

It is important to explore whether an underlying disease is playing a role in its development. Identifying and addressing these underlying conditions could result in the clearing or improvement of your skin. Taking an active role in managing this condition is also important by changing lifestyle such as weight loss and dietary modifications to enhance insulin sensitivity.

 

Obesity


Obesity can result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Several medical conditions can contribute to or be associated with obesity. Here are some medical conditions that may cause or contribute to obesity:

 

1.     Hypothyroidism- An underactive thyroid can lead to a decrease in metabolism, causing weight gain.


2.     Cushing’s syndrome- This disorder is characterized by the overproduction of cortisol, a hormone that can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.


3.     Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)- PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, and difficulties in losing weight.


4.     Prader-Willi Syndrome- This is a genetic disorder that results in insatiable hunger and a slowed metabolism, often leading to obesity.


5.     Insulin resistance- Conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes can involve insulin resistance, making it difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar and leading to weight gain.


6.     Genetic factors- Genetic predisposition can play a significant role in a person’s susceptibility to obesity.


7.     Hypothalamic obesity- Hypothalamus is a structure within the brain responsible for regulating appetite. If the hypothalamus undergoes damage, which can result from a brain tumor or head injury, it may lead to swift weight gain. This is attributed to changes in brain response, attention, satiety, and eating behaviors.


8.     Binge eating disorder- An eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food, often rapidly and to the point of discomfort, which can contribute to obesity.

 

While these conditions may contribute to weight gain, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity also play a crucial role in the development and management of obesity. Additionally, the interaction between genetics and the environment is complex, and individual responses to these factors can vary.

 

Addressing the root medical conditions can support weight loss. Additionally, making lifestyle modifications and incorporating certain aesthetic treatments can contribute to the effective management of weight and fat.



Hair loss


hair loss

Hair loss, or alopecia, can result from various medical conditions, genetic factors, hormonal changes and environmental influences. Here are some medical conditions that can contribute to hair loss:

 

1.     Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. These can cause hair loss as the immune system attacks healthy cells, including own hair follicles.


2.     Nutritional deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, and vitamin D, can contribute to hair loss.


3.     Thyroid disorders: Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and drug-induced hypothyroidism have been associated with widespread hair shedding.


4.     Scalp infections, such as ringworm, and other fungal conditions can cause hair loss


5.     Trichotillomania: This is a psychological disorder where individuals have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, leading to noticeable hair loss.


6.     Cushing’s syndrome


7.     PCOS

 

Hirsutism


hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition characterized by the excessive growth of coarse, dark hair in areas where men typically grow hair, primarily in women. This abnormal hair growth pattern is often associated with an increase in androgens, which are male hormones. When high androgen levels cause hirsutism, other signs might develop over time, including acne, hair loss, deepening voice, decreased breast size and enlargement of the clitoris.

 

Hirsutism can be a cosmetic concern and may indicate an underlying medical condition.

 

Causes:

1.     Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

-       PCOS is a common cause of hirsutism. It leads to an imbalance in androgens, causing excessive hair growth.


2.     Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

-       This is a genetic disorder affecting the adrenal glands, leading to an overproduction of androgens and hirsutism.


3.     Cushing’s syndrome

-       An endocrine disorder characterized by prolonged exposure to high levels of cortisol, which can lead to hirsutism.


4.     Tumours

-       Androgen-secreting tumour in the ovaries or adrenal glands tumour can produce excess androgens, leading to hirsutism.


5.     Medications

-       Certain medications, such as steroids and certain hormonal treatments, can cause hirsutism as a side effect.

 

To address this condition, aesthetic medicine can contribute through the use of laser for hair removal.

 

Acne 


Although acne is primarily identified as a skin issue, in some cases, its development can be influenced or exacerbated by various medical conditions and factors. Here are a few examples of conditions that may contribute to or worsen acne:

 

1.     Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can lead to an imbalance in androgens, contributing to the development of acne. Hormonal fluctuations associated with PCOS may result in increased oil production and the formation of acne lesions, especially along the jawline and chin.

 

2.     Cushing’s syndrome

Elevated cortisol levels can affect the skin’s oil production and contribute to the occurrence of acne.

 

3.     Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

Elevated androgen levels stimulate sebaceous glands, contributing to acne development.

 

Treatments for hormonal acne can include topical and oral medications. Your discipline also plays a part to effectively manage acne. Resist the urge to touch or pick at your face, as these behaviours can exacerbate inflammation and contribute to the formation of acne scars. Additionally, it is advisable to steer clear of sugary foods and dairy products, as they can trigger and worsen acne.



In conclusion, it is important to recognise that aesthetic signs can often be indicative of underlying health conditions, serving as visual cues that prompt further investigation. Paying attention to changes in the skin, hair, and overall appearance can be a valuable step in identifying potential health issues early on. While aesthetic treatments can address certain concerns, understanding the broader context of these signs is equally important.

 

 

 

 

Recent Posts

See All