We all know that we should keep an eye on moles and any other skin changes that might be a sign of skin cancer. But there's another reason to look closely at your skin: It can point to-or sometimes even predict-internal diseases that you might not be aware of.

Many internal diseases are accompanied by skin symptoms. The yellowish skin tint (jaundice) caused by hepatitis is a common one but there are other serious health problems that most people don't associate with skin changes...


Skin symptoms: Rash or pimple-like eruptions (sometimes containing pus) under the breasts, between the buttocks or in other skinfolds.

Possible underlying cause: Candidiasis, a fungal infection that commonly affects people with diabetes. This infection also can lead to whitish spots on the tongue or inner cheeks.

Candidiasis of the skin or mucous membranes that is chronic or difficult to control can be a red flag for poor blood sugar control-and it can occur in patients who haven't yet been diagnosed with diabetes. People with poor blood sugar control often have impaired immunity, increasing their risk for infections such as Candidiasis.

Next step: Most Candidiasis infections are easily treated with topical antifungal preparations. People with persistent/severe cases may need an oral medication, such as over-the-counter (OTC) clotrimazole (Lotrimin) or prescription fluconazole (Diflucan).

Also: Dark patches of skin that feel velvety and thicker than normal (especially on the neck and under the arms) could be due to acanthosis nigricans, a sign of insulin resistance, a condition that often precedes diabetes. The skin may also smell bad or itch.

Acanthosis nigricans often will improve without treatment when you get your blood sugar under control, so get tested for insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in