What’s Happening to my Skin?
A Variety of Skin Problems are Linked to Obesity
Anyone who has been overweight for a good part of his or her life is probably aware of the associated health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. However, there are some other health risks that may not be as apparent. This includes a variety of skin problems.
One reason why skin is vulnerable to deterioration is because fat has a poor blood supply and also causes sweating. When this happens, excess moisture builds up and causes irritation, lesions or infection; this is even more likely if a person has skin folds. People with obesity also can experience pressure injuries that cause ulcers, also known as bed sores, because of how their weight is distributed.
Another common skin disease linked to obesity is psoriasis. This is an auto-immune disease caused by inflammation in the body and leads to itchy, dry patches of skin. Some medical studies have found that people with obesity are predisposed to have psoriasis and experience greater inflammation. Although it is not contagious, there is a strong genetic connection so siblings or children in the same family are more likely to have psoriasis.
Some people with obesity find their skin turning dark around the neck, armpits or groin. This condition, called acanthosis nigricans, is more common among those with skin folds or diabetes. This can also cause the skin to thicken. The most dangerous skin disease is melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Being overweight or having obesity are risk factors for melanoma and also are a factor in the aggressiveness of the cancer.
Weight loss can make a big difference for people with many of these conditions and even restore skin to its natural state. There are also treatments that can help manage many of these conditions and their symptoms. To minimize these types of skin conditions, moisture control is critical. Keep your skin clean and dry with soft absorbent cloth and use topical creams prescribed by your doctor. Drinking plenty of water is important and wearing loose clothing that “breathes” or wicks away sweat can help.
Skin is the largest organ of the body and it does a lot to protect us. It keeps everything inside safe and healthy and creates a protective barrier from external dangers. It also regulates our temperature, produces vitamin D and helps detect infection. We literally can’t live without it! If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to speak to your doctor. In the meantime, take good care of the skin that is taking care of you!
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.