Understanding the Effects of Untreated Hypothyroidism on the Skin
Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, which leads to reduced production of thyroid hormones. These hormones play a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, and development. The great news is that all thyroid issues and all of the symptoms associated with it are fixable - whether through natural means or through thyroid hormone replacement.
When hypothyroidism is left untreated, it can have several effects on the skin due to the disruption of normal thyroid hormone levels and functions. Here are some ways untreated hypothyroidism can affect the skin:
- Dryness: One of the most common skin manifestations of untreated hypothyroidism is dryness. Thyroid hormones are responsible for maintaining the skin's moisture balance. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the skin may become dry, rough, and scaly. It may lose its natural elasticity and become prone to cracking and flaking. What I noticed in myself when I was hypo (along with other hypothyroid clients) was that the inside-corner of the right index finger becomes scaly and dry and no amount of moisturizer helps.
- Paleness: Hypothyroidism can cause a decrease in blood flow to the skin, leading to a pale or yellowish complexion. Reduced circulation can make the skin appear dull and lifeless.
- Coarseness: In some cases, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to thickening and coarseness of the skin. This may occur particularly in areas such as the elbows, knees, and heels, giving the skin a rough and leathery texture.
- Edema: Hypothyroidism can cause a buildup of fluid in the body, resulting in a condition called edema. This fluid retention can manifest as swelling in the face, hands, feet, and legs. The skin over these areas may appear puffy, stretched, or tight. Read my blog post on Myxedema.
- Hair and Nail Changes: Thyroid hormones also influence hair and nail growth. In untreated hypothyroidism, hair may become brittle, dry, and prone to breakage. Hair loss, particularly on the scalp's outer edges, may also occur. Nails may become brittle, ridged, and develop a yellowish discoloration.
- Delayed wound healing: Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the skin's regenerative processes, including wound healing. With hypothyroidism, the skin's ability to repair itself and heal wounds can be impaired, leading to delayed wound healing.
- Increased susceptibility to infections: The skin's immune function may be compromised in untreated hypothyroidism, making it more susceptible to infections. Skin infections, such as fungal infections or bacterial folliculitis, may occur more frequently or be more challenging to resolve.
It's important to note that these skin manifestations are not exclusive to hypothyroidism and can be caused by other factors as well. If you suspect you have hypothyroidism or are experiencing skin changes, it is time to get tested for hypothyroidism and fix this underlying factor.
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