Your face is a road map of your health, like your eyes are the windows to your soul. While emotions get reflected on your face, the different parts of your face reveal the status of your health.
Different parts of your face correlate with different organs of the body and their health status. This is why doctors examine your eyes, tongue and other parts of your face when you go for regular health check-ups.
A new mole, a change in complexion, new lines, a new skin tag and so on, everything has a reason behind it. Hence, it is important to pay close attention to your face and any new changes should be brought to your doctor’s attention.
Here are the 10 things that your face tells you about your health.
1. Yellowing of Skin and Eyes
If you notice a yellow tinge around your face and specifically the whites of your eyes turning yellow, it is a big sign that you may be suffering from jaundice.
Jaundice occurs due to the buildup of bilirubin in the blood and body tissue that normally the liver would get rid of along with old red blood cells. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment formed by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver.
It can also be a sign of liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis. Yellowing of the skin may even indicate problems with your gallbladder or pancreas.
Along with yellowing of the skin and eyes, other symptoms of jaundice are fatigue, a headache, a fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pain, skin itching, and pale-colored urine and stools.
Hence, if you have yellowing of the skin and eyes, see your physician for further evaluation.
2. Butterfly-Shaped Rash
Any kind of rash on the face is a sure sign that something is wrong within your body. If the rash stretches across both cheeks in the shape of a butterfly and has a sunburn-like appearance, you may be suffering from lupus. Lupus is an immune-system disorder that affects the skin, joints, blood, lungs, heart and kidneys.
Along with the butterfly-shaped rash, other symptoms of lupus are fatigue, joint pain, swelling, muscle pain, a low-grade fever, enlarged lymph nodes, chest pain, shortness of breath, fluid retention and frequent headaches.
If you have this butterfly-shaped rash on your face as well as some of the other symptoms mentioned above, it is important to consult a doctor.
Timely management of this disease is important, as it can lead to life-threatening complications like cardiovascular disease and kidney problems in some people.
3. Excessive Facial Hair
Unwanted hair along the jaw line, chin and upper lip can be very embarrassing for any woman. This beauty problem is known as hirsutism.
This facial hair problem can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance in which male hormone levels are elevated. This problem is more common in women after menopause due to sudden hormonal changes in the body.
According to a 2012 study published in the American Family Physician, PCOS is the most common cause of hirsutism, accounting for three out of four cases. The study says that hair removal and pharmacologic measures are effective treatments for the hirsutism. Shaving is effective but needs to be repeated often.
Along with PCOS, unwanted facial hair can also be due to the use of certain medications or adrenal gland disorders. In rare cases, it can be due to a tumor or cancer of the adrenal gland or ovaries.
4. Pale Skin
If your otherwise healthy looking skin suddenly appears pale, washed-out and lifeless, get your iron level checked.
Iron-deficiency anemia, which affects billions of people worldwide, is one of the main causes of pale-looking skin.
Due to a low iron level, the body cannot produce sufficient hemoglobin, which is needed to give your blood its red color and your skin its healthy tone.
In cases of severe iron deficiency, the skin may lose its normal color and become severely pale. Even the inside of the lips, gums and the inside of the bottom eyelids appear less red than usual.
Along with pale skin, fatigue is a common symptom of iron deficiency. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, headaches, coldness in your hands and feet, brittle nails.
If you have an iron deficiency, it is important to eat more iron-rich foods like meat, beetroots, pomegranates, lentils and beans. To aid proper absorption of iron in your body, make sure to eat foods rich in vitamin C, too.
5. Dry Skin and Flaky Lips
Everyone experiences dry skin from time to time. It can be due to minor causes, such as wintry air or overly hot showers. However, at times, excessive dry skin as well as flaky and chapped lips is a classic sign of dehydration.
The skin contains approximately 30 percent water, which contributes to plumpness, elasticity and resiliency. So when your body lacks water, it may result in dry skin. In addition, dehydration can cause dry and chapped lips.
Plus, a low water level in the body means it does not sweat enough to wash away excess dirt and oil accumulated on the skin. This in turn can increase the risk of acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Hydrate your skin by drinking plenty of water. Also, apply a thin layer of coconut or olive oil on your skin and lips and massage gently.
While having dry skin once in a while can be due to dehydration, if you have this problem more often, it can indicate other health problems like hypothyroidism or diabetes. Vitamin B deficiency can also be one of the causes.
6. Abnormal Skin Discoloration
Women who have PCOS may notice thick, brown or black patches on the neck folds, forehead, navel, armpits and breasts. This type of skin discoloration is known as acanthosis nigricans. Insulin resistance or high insulin levels in people suffering from PCOS causes the appearance of thick, corrosive and discolored skin on various parts of the body.
In a 2004 study published in the Middle East Fertility Society Journal, 68.75 percent of 33 PCOS patients (18 to 32 years old) reported having acanthosis nigricans.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research reports that PCOS patients who had a family history of diabetes and obesity were more likely to develop acanthosis nigricans, which is a marker of hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.
7. Deep Premature Wrinkles
Wrinkles are inevitable with age. However, premature wrinkles around the mouth or forehead can take away the beauty and charm of youth.
Premature wrinkles can be due to excessive exposure to cigarette smoke. The nicotine in cigarettes narrows the blood vessels in the skin’s outer layers and reduces blood flow. This deprives your skin of oxygen and nutrients needed for healthy and beautiful skin.
Plus, there are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke that damage collagen and elastin, which give your skin its strength and elasticity.
In a 2002 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, researchers studied 123 nonsmokers, 160 current smokers and 67 past smokers (ages 20 to 69 years) for a month. After image analysis of facial skin replicas, they found that current smokers have a higher degree of facial wrinkling than nonsmokers and past smokers. Past smokers who smoked heavily at a younger age even showed less facial wrinkling than current smokers.
By saying no to smoking, you can slow down the development of wrinkles and, with time, your skin will start to look healthier.
8. Cracks at the Corners of the Mouth
Cracks near the mouth, which is medically known as angular cheilitis, are often associated with vitamin B2 or riboflavin deficiency.
Lack of this B vitamin in the body can lead to inflammation of the membranes of your mouth, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract. Along with cracks at the corners of your mouth, you can also suffer from symptoms like swelling of the mucous membranes, inflamed eyelids, sores on your lips or mouth, and skin redness.
To treat the cracks at the corners of your mouth, include vitamin B-rich foods in your diet. Eat more poultry, salmon, tuna, eggs, oysters, clams, sun-dried tomatoes, Swiss chard, peanuts, beans and legumes. Alternatively, you could try taking a vitamin B supplement after consulting your doctor.
Along with vitamin B2 deficiency, this painful problem can also be due to iron and zinc deficiencies.
9. Yellow Patches around the Eyes
Yellow patches in the skin around the eyes, known as xanthelasma, can be a sign of heart disease.
Xanthelasma palpebrarum are yellow plaques that occur most commonly near the inner canthus of the eyelids. These small skin patches are soft and painless and don’t interfere with vision. However, this problem is often associated with atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia and coronary artery disease.
A 2013 study published in BioMed Research International found that a significant number of cases of xanthelasma palpebrarum are combined with smoking, central obesity, hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia, which are the major risk factors for coronary artery disease.
10. Puffy Eyes
Puffy eyes or dark circles under the eyes typically result from too many late nights or not getting enough sleep. It can even be due to too much crying.
However, if puffy eyes occur more often despite getting enough sleep, it may signal an underlying medical problem.
For instance, it may be due to thyroid eye disease that causes swelling of the tissue and muscles around the eyes.
Thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune diseasein which the body’s immune system attacks the back of the eye and causes inflammation. Apart from puffiness, there may be other symptoms likea change in the appearance of the eyes, a feeling of grittiness in the eyes, watery eyes, blurred vision and even pain in or behind the eyes, especially when looking up, down or sideways.
At times, puffy or bulging eyes can signal a thyroid disorder known as Graves’ disease. It may also signal some kind of kidney problem that can lead to general swelling throughout the body, including around the eyes.