You may not look the same when you wake up every morning. On some days, there’s an enviable glow on your face, on some you are just okay and on other days, you look completely sapped of energy as if you battled a storm the previous night. You may brush off these different looks as something routine, but they can reveal a lot about your inner health. Some may indicate common ailments while others can point to something more serious for you to act upon.
“Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, it clearly reflects what goes on inside your body and what the status of your health is,” said Dr Neha Mittal, cosmetic physician at Dermaworld Skin & Hair Clinics, Delhi. “There are various signs and symptoms that your body starts exhibiting that depict that something is not normal… One should be aware of these sudden changes in the skin, which are quite noticeable early in the morning.”
A. Lack of sleep
Sleep is a natural reset button for our brain and body, which is even more required these days because of increased work pressure and stress. “Face is the index of the mind… a skipped sleep is easily identified on the face,” said Dr Jaidev Yadav, consultant dermatologist at Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru.
Along with tiredness, depression can appear as skin lesions too. A trained dermatologist can recognise this symptom and guide the patient to a psychiatrist for treatment. A major reason for skin eruptions is alcohol and drug abuse, said Yadav. Other symptoms include vertigo and insomnia.
The look: Dry, flaky and dull skin along with chapped lips
What it may mean: Dehydration
Lack of adequate intake of water is the prime reason for dehydration, said Mittal. The person can also suffer from increased thirst, headache, dizziness, dry mouth and a feeling of cold at times.
The look: Discoloured under-eye
What it may mean: Anaemia
Improper eating habits are the main reason for this. Moving away from traditional eating to western foods and the eating-out culture are causing nutritional imbalance. For example, taking lesser green leafy vegetables, dates and ragi that provide the required iron has led to a drop in daily consumption. Eating fried foods has reduced the protein intake in the diet. Lack of enough lentils (dal) and vegetables has led to reduced vitamin B intake, said Dr Dharini Krishnan,a consultant dietitian based in Chennai. Those suffering from anaemia may experience hair loss and weakness too. Women are more prone to this condition.
The look: Puffy face
What it may mean: Cold and/or sinusitis It is usually accompanied by a stuffy nose and a heavy head. While the common cold is caused by a virus, stuffy nose, specially if it isn’t running, could be because of dust allergy, improper ventilation and clogged air-conditioning filters. Unclean carpets and upholstery of the furniture also cause a cold due to the dust, explained Krishnan. There can also be external sources causing the puffing face according to Yadav
“Infections from bacteria, fungi or viruses bear a direct correlation to the immunity of an individual and are seen as a puffy face,” he said.
The look: Yellow spots on eyelids
What it may mean: Heart diseases The yellow spots on the eyelids are cholesterol-filled lesions, called xanthelasmata. They are a warning sign that the person is at a higher risk for heart diseases. However, it is not wise to wait for a heart disease symptom to show up on the skin. Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, know about other symptoms of heart trouble and visit your doctor if you experience any of those.
The look: Acne
What it may mean: Hormonal imbalance
Hormonal triggers lead to an oily face and, thereby, acne. If accompanied by unwanted facial hair, irregular periods and weight gain, it may be an indication of polycystic ovarian syndrome in women. Brain-related ailments are known to show up as acne, especially among teens and tweens.
A healthy and smiling face can be the simplest way to tell if a person’s inner health is fine, which is clearly reflected on the skin. “In Ayurveda, this concept is called Sara Pariksha (examination of the health of the tissues). The primary factor that influences this is the diet the person consumes and the lifestyle the person follows,” said Dr Madhumitha Krishnan, Ayurvedic physician at Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru.
“When a person is healthy, the agni (digestive fire) is proper, which indicates that the food consumed is properly and adequately converted into the various physiological factors that make up the human body. In turn, when all these physiological factors work in harmony, the mental status of the person is good and a person glows with health,” she said.
Since the face depicts the inner health, the solution is to consume healthy, nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fibres, so that the body is healthy from within, said Mittal from Dermaworld.
One must also follow a skincare routine based on his/her skin type, which should include cleaning, toning and moisturising, she added. “Include exercise in your routine. Start with brisk walking and top it with easy exercise for a fit body. Exercising improves blood circulation and makes your body flexible,” she said, adding, “Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeinated drinks”. In short, adopt a healthy lifestyle and wake up to see a healthy you.