Your skin can be a crucial early-warning system for a range of health problems, according to doctors.
They said signs of brittle bones, diabetes and vitamin deficiencies may surface on skin before other symptoms appears, the Huffington Post reported.
A study of 114 recently postmenopausal women found that deep wrinkles on the face and neck could indicate an increased risk for broken bones.
The reason is that women with such wrinkles were more likely to have lower bone density in areas like the hips, spine and heels.
Estrogen promotes the production of the protein collagen, which your skin and bones both rely on to maintain density. So as a woman''s level of estrogen declines in menopause, said Dr. Ronald Young, co-director of the Menopause Center at Texas Children''s Pavilion for Women in Houston, "collagen in the skin is depleted, which means the skin isn''t as firm and elastic, and wrinkles develop."
Deeper, worsening wrinkles are a sign that the body is producing less collagen, which often means bone density is decreasing as well.
The worse the wrinkles, the lesser the bone density, added lead researcher Lubna Pal, a Yale School of Medicine associate professor.
"This relationship was independent of age or of factors known to influence bone mass," Pal noted.
If you discover thick, dark, velvety patches on folds of skin on your neck, armpit or groin, doctors suggest a blood test to check for diabetes.
These patches, known as acanthosis nigricans, could be benign or a normal side effect of obesity, but they also could be a sign of diabetes, said dermatologist Janet Lin of Baltimore''s Mercy Medical Center.
Thyroid gland is responsible for hormones that, among other functions, regulate your body temperature, metabolism and nervous system as well as the health of skin, hair and nails.
Signs that your thyroid isn''t performing properly -- it can be either overactive or underactive -- tend to appear first on your skin, typically on the back of your upper arms and the back of your fingers.
At first the skin just seems rough or bumpy, like a mild rash, according to naturopath Alan Christianson of Phoenix.
But if the thyroid continues to be out of whack, other areas can be affected, he said, such as the legs, scalp and neck. An underactive gland could result in hair loss, brittle nails or dry, flaky skin.
If any such things happen, schedule a physical with your internist and ask for a thyroid function test, the doctors said.
Again dull, dry skin or complexion could indicate an omega-3 deficiency, Christianson said, because its absence can slow your natural exfoliation cycle, also potentially leading to dryness or dandruff.
Supplements are one option to restore omega-3, but the best way to correct the deficiency is through diet.
The American Heart Association recommends eating a 3- to 4-ounce serving of oily fish twice a week. Flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans can also help maintain omega-3 levels, it said.