What your skin is trying to tell you
Those imperfections may be annoying, but they reveal more than you think
You have your blood pressure checked, your iron levels tested and your blood count, well, counted. But when was the last time you gave your skin a once-over? “As you age, your skin develops textural changes, such as wrinkles as well as pigmented spots,” says Dr Nina Wines from Northern Sydney Dermatology. For the most part, these changes are harmless, but experts say that certain skin complaints can indicate more serious conditions, from high blood pressure to hormone imbalance. Wondering what’s normal and what’s not? You’ve come to the right place.
Problem: You still get acne
Acne is an infection in the pores, but it’s harmless, says GP Dr Joe Kosterich. Clear up the odd pimple with an overnight spot treatment, such as Mario Badescu Skin Care Drying Lotion. Its calming blend of calamine and salicylic acid treat and soothes blemishes by morning.
See your GP if: It’s affecting your quality of life. “Women who have adult acne can develop psychological problems, as they worry about going out in public,” says Dr Phillip Artemi, spokesperson for the Australiasian College of Dermatologists. If your recurring breakouts are accompanied by weight gain, oily skin and excessive hair growth, you could be suffering from a hormone imbalance associated with polycystic-ovary syndrome, but a “specialist has usually diagnosed this by the time you’ve reached your forties”, explains Artemi.
Problem: You have little bumps or cysts
Many of us have cysts, which fall into two categories: lipomas, or collections of fat cells, and sebaceous cysts, which are lumps underneath the skin, says Dr Kosterich. If the cyst is mobile—that is, you can move it around a bit—you’re in the clear! But if your little lump becomes a concern, a specialist can remove it, whether it’s a lipoma or sebaceous cyst.
See your GP if: The lump is fixed and feels solid. In rare cases, “this could indicate that it’s a cancerous cyst,” says Dr Kosterich. A sebaceous cyst can also become infected, in which case you may need to have a doctor surgically remove it. “Keep your eyes peeled for any new lumps and bumps. If they don’t disappear after a couple of weeks, you should see your doctor or dermatologist,” advises Dr Kosterich.
Problem: Your face is often dry and itchy
The water content of your skin diminishes with age—regardless of how much water you’re drinking, says Dr Wines. Thirsty, irritable skin can also be due to eczema or menopause. More everyday causes include taking overly hot showers and skipping moisturiser, so apply a cream or lotion within five minutes of drying off. Try a complexion-calming product such as Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Youth Regenerating Cream. It not only revitalises cells with Haberlea rhodopensis, a flower that minimises water loss, but also hydrates with both squalane and glycerin.
See your GP if: Your skin is gradually becoming drier. You may have an underactive thyroid, says Kosterich. Dry skin can also be a sign of late stage liver problems and kidney disease, so make an appointment with your doctor, who can check your thyroid and assess your liver and kidneys, advises Dr Kosterich.
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.