A Sign Of Things To Come
Best Health|February/March 2019

Skin rashes, bumps or discolourations? Your skin may be trying to tell you something important about the state of your health. Listen up!

Lisa Kadane

Leslie Doane was travelling in Guate- mala when she noticed her skin and eyes taking on a yellowish tinge.

“I remember looking in a mirror at the whites of my eyes and I thought, ‘That’s not right, that’s not normal. They look really yellow. Am I sick?’” recalls Doane. “I knew that was a sign of hepatitis, but I’d had the Havrix vaccine for Hep A.”

She visited a clinic and a blood test confirmed she’d contracted Hepatitis A, a highly contagious viral liver disease transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water, or exposure to people with the illness through close personal contact, such as caring for an infected friend. After a couple months of extreme fatigue and lots of rest, Doane’s energy levels rebounded, and her jaundice (the yellowing of skin and eyes) receded.

Jaundice is a common symptom of liver disease, but it’s not the only surface change that signals an internal health problem.

Our skin is more than just our covering. It is the body’s largest organ, and as such, is synergistically connected to other organs through our lymphatic, nervous and circulatory systems. Its size, visibility and accessibility often make it the first place that symptoms of internal disease show up

“There are so many skin manifestations of disease, whether you’re talking about liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, endocrine disorders, malignancy. Almost every disease of organs has a skin symptom,” says Dr. Lynne Robertson, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, at the University of Calgary.

We’ve been taught for years to monitor our skin and look for differences in moles that could indicate skin cancer. Not to add to your daily postshower regimen, ladies, but changes in colour, texture or feeling on the skin’s surface – in the form of rashes, growths or sensations such as itching – should also be checked out. And it doesn’t stop with just the skin– alterations in the nails or with hair growth (or loss) can also be a tip-off that something’s not right internally.

“One of the things I really love about my job is that a lot of it is detective work,” says Dr. Marcie Ulmer, a cosmetic and medical dermatologist with Pacific Derm in Vancouver. “It's like a window into one’s health – the skin, the hair and even the nails can provide clues to what’s going on inside.”

Here are eight diseases that may first reveal themselves through skin analysis.

LUPUS

This autoimmune disease affects one in 1,000 people, more commonly women. It causes inflammation in tissues or organs such as the skin, muscles, joints, kidneys, lungs and heart. Its nickname is “the disease with 1,000 faces” because it presents differently in each case, making it difficult to diagnose.

WARNING SIGNS

The classic skin symptom is a butterfly rash on the cheeks and bridge of the nose. There might also be a history of sun sensitivity, mouth ulcers or other skin rashes.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BEST HEALTHView All

ECO-FRIENDLY YOGA MATS

Do It For The Climate

5 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

SKIN FEELING OILY, PARCHED OR STRESSED? CONSIDER AN ACID TRIP

When it comes to skin care, knowledge is power, and we’re all getting smarter. “Since the pandemic, people are actively seeking information through online tutorials and master classes,” says Patricia Clare, a Vancouver-based national trainer for NeoStrata, an anti-aging skincare line. “They’re really trying to put it together. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” Knowing that different results come from different ingredients is part of the journey toward building a skin-care routine that works for you, and that means getting more familiar with acid ingredients.

3 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

We Tried It: A PRICEY AT-HOME LED FACE MASK

For three minutes every evening, I lie on my couch with an absolutely terrifying mask placed over my just-cleansed face while red and blue lights allegedly work their magic to give me line-free, blemish-free skin. The mask is the latest innovation from Dr. Dennis Gross, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatological surgeon known for his at-home peeling masks. The DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is an LED mask that uses red light to boost collagen and reduce fine lines, and blue light to kill bacteria to help heal and prevent future breakouts and redness.

2 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

The story behind a misunderstood and often misdiagnosed heart condition that's affecting Canadian women.

Sudi Barre is a young, healthy, fit woman who, immediately after giving birth, suffered a heart attack. Then she had seven more.

10+ mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

PSYCHOLOGIST JANINE HUBBARD ON SUPPORTING KIDS (AND PARENTS) AS THEY HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL

This September, as we cautiously ease out of a year-and-a-half-long pandemic, we’re heading back into a school year that’s unlike any other. School has changed. We’ve changed too.

5 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

IS THERE EVEN SUCH A THING AS A HEALTHY BREAKFAST CEREAL?

Quick Question

3 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

HOW THE PANDEMIC HELPED ME OPEN UP ABOUT MY PARKINSON'S

Recently, my family and I ventured north of our home in Ajax, Ont., to the Bruce Peninsula to go hiking at Greig’s Caves.

6 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

Eat More - MEDJOOL DATES

You always remember your first good date. One nibble, and you’re courted by a deep caramel flavour, soft texture and delightfully sweet taste. For me, it was love at first bite.

4 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

AT YOUR LEISURE

WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR FREE TIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. HERE’S WHY HAVING A HOBBY IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH - AND HOW TO FIND ONE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

10 mins read
Best Health
August/September 2021

We Tried It AN ACUPUNCTURE FACIAL

As a beauty writer, I’m invited to try all sorts of new treatments. But I also get a bunch of inspiration through Instagram scrolling—and that’s where I found my latest task. French influencer Mathilde Lacombe posted a filter-free self ie highlighting her ridiculously smooth forehead, which she claimed wasn’t the result of Botox. Instead, she said her ironed-out guise was thanks to cosmetic acupuncture.

4 mins read
Best Health
June/July 2021