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October 9, 2019

The Butterfly Effect: Thyroid and Skin

This particular concept has been beautifully explained in one of Stephen King’s finest works, 11/22/63. The butterfly effect is a theory where small things can have a chaotic impact on a complex system. The concept in the novel is described in a way where a butterfly flaps its wings and causes a hurricane. Same is true about thyroid – Thyroid Gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that is situated in the base of the neck. This organ may be small, but it has a walloping impact.

Let’s start with a simple question. What does your thyroid do?

The real question is what your thyroid cannot do? Thyroid gland secretes hormones that affect pretty much everything that your body does e.g.

  • Cardiovascular function
  • Metabolism
  • Mood swings
  • Bone growth
  • Neuro function
  • Digestion
  • Menstrual cycle

You’ll be amazed when you realise just how many difficulties can arise with a thyroid imbalance, right from severe mood variations to serious weight changes to changes in heart rate and more.

But wait, how is Thyroid related to your skin anyway?

Albeit your thyroid gland sits deep in your neck, your dermatologist would probably be one of the first doctors to notice signs that are related to thyroid disorder. That’s because many signs and symptoms of thyroid disease develop on the epidermis (skin, hair and nails).

The skin is actually the biggest organ of your body and hence gets affected by a lot many things. An imbalance in hormones can lead to the development of symptoms on your skin as well as other parts of the body.

I am going to list down symptoms of thyroid imbalance that one should watch out for and if need be consult a specialist who may order tests and determine the exact cause.

A condition of an under active thyroid, medically known as hypothyroidism occurs when the gland doesn’t secrete enough thyroid hormone to regulate metabolism, causing various bodily functions to become sluggish.

 

  • Skin changes that can be observed in hypothyroidism
  •  Excessive dryness can lead to cracks and scaly skin and itching
  •  Decreased sweating
  •  Yellowish colour of palms and soles
  •  Delayed healing of wounds
  •  Easy bruising
  •  Baggy swollen face, puffy eyelids, swollen lips, broad nose( severe cases)

 

  •  Hair changes:
  •  Scalp and body hair become dry, coarse and brittle leading to easy breakage and hair loss

 

  •  Changes on Nails:
  •  Become brittle, slow to grow
  •  Nail changes in the form of pits, lines on the nails

 Hyperthyroid is a condition where an overactive thyroid secretes too much thyroid  hormone.  This too can cause enough problems.

  •  Skin changes in hyperthyroidism:
  •  Warm, moist skin
  •  Increased sweating ( mainly on the chest and inner side of the arm)
  •  Flushing (increased redness)of palms
  •  Increased pigmentation (darkening of the skin) on sun-exposed areas, palms
  •  Orange skin like appearance mainly on shins with thickening and hardening of the skin

 

  •  Excessive hair loss
  •  Soft brittle nails, curved nail with a swollen fingertip and thickened skin above the nail

 

  •  Association:
  •  Vitiligo
  •  Alopecia areata( small areas of bald patches on the scalp, beard)
  •  Long-standing hives

I know that fighting a chronic illness isn’t easy. The good news is that, between medications and tweaking up your lifestyle you can make a lot of difference.

Most of the above-mentioned signs are reversible post-correction of thyroid imbalance and others need specific treatment, but it still can be controlled.

The thing about the butterfly effect is that it applies to the good things in life too. Making small incremental changes to your lifestyle and keeping a track of the small changes in your body will definitely help you lead a long and healthy life.

 

About INURSKN:

Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are the honest and affordable, skin and hair care clinic. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.

Equipped with the latest technology, here qualified and trained doctors conduct and supervise all procedures in strict adherence to protocols developed by Dr. Saheta.

We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:

 

Disclaimer:

This article is one in a series of articles on skin conditions by Dr. Sejal Saheta – MD, DNB – Dermatology and Venereology. The objective of this series is to educate the reader and help them take precautions against various skin conditions they come across on an everyday basis. These articles are not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment.