This is the 3rd part of the much-awaited Skin Health series, where I get to work with Dr Verallo-Rowell again (we last worked on Sensitive Skin Product Series in 2012). The series is inspired by my conversation with Dr Verallo Rowell’s daughter, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics) in Singapore when she mentioned her mom identified underlying health problems after seeing the skin of her friends. Dr Verallo Rowell is a renowned dermatologist, dermatopathologist and dermatology/laser surgeon who has authored of over 150 articles that have appeared in dermatology journals and meeting publications, and two books on skin and health. Read more on her here.
Understanding Skin and Health – Veins and Bruises and Moles
This week we are investigating more specifically into what the appearance of our veins, bruises, moles and hair growth tell us about our health.
I’m looking at my own veins now, and I can see veins on my hands (as I’m typing), on my wrist (so that if I ever need a drip, the (hopefully experienced) nurse knows where to poke, and my feet. There are veins which are swollen with blood in older individuals, such as varicose veins, due to the valve not working and blood gets pooled due to gravity
MarcieMom: Apart from varicose veins, are there instances when the skin can get thinner or more transparent, thereby making the veins suddenly more apparent? I’m thinking maybe aged, sun-damaged skin may play a part too.
Dr Verallo-Rowell: You are absolutely right! The thinner the skin, often from photoaging on the more exposed skin of the hands, the easier the veins of the hands appear and wrists. Some people use steroid creams continuously for eczema and other chronic itchy skin conditions. Steroids are notorious for making the skin thin. I have seen so many of these and yes the veins literally pop out in these steroid thinned out skin areas.
Brown patches on the skin are characteristic of diabetic dermopathy, where the capillaries are injured from knocks and ‘leaked’ leading to formation of rough, brown patches. Lines on the palm or soles are also symptom of an endocrine disorder, known as the Addison’s disease.
MarcieMom: How long does a bruise take to heal? Could say, having a bruise on a day down with flu cause it to look worse than normal?
Dr Verallo-Rowell: Bruises behave more or less in a certain pattern. First the extravasation of red blood cells from the damaged or inflamed vessels shows bright red color of blood leaked out into the extra-vascular compartment of skin, often with swelling and warmth of the skin. By about the 5th day the redness gives way to a bluish or purplish color as the red colored hemoglobin breaks down into hemosiderin. By the 7th day billiverdin makes it color greenish, then changes to a yellowish color by the 7th to about the 10th day from the bilirbin in the blood. As these pigments become cleared by our scavenging cells, the area becomes brownish before going back to our regular color. The more intense colors will come from bruising or damage of more superficial skin areas.
When moles take on a different shape, darker color or irregular edges, it can be a sign of skin cancer. I’ve read that hairdressers have spotted changing moles for their clients, and safe them from cancer via prompt consultation with doctor!
MarcieMom: Does the presence of the mole itself create the additional risk of skin cancer?
Dr Verallo-Rowell: NOT all moles become skin cancer. The risk factors for moles that may become skin cancer or melanoma are
(1) many (more than 50);
(2) often with A for Assymetry; B for border irregularity; C for irregular pigment distribution ; D for diameter of 6 mm or more; E for evolving or changing noted in size, etc.;
(3) the “ugly duckling sign” – in a field of moles it is the one that looks different from the other;
(4) history of melanoma in the family;
(5) evidence of photoaging.
MarcieMom: Thank you Dr Verallo Rowell, your 5 points for moles are a very good takeaway, at least I would stop warning everyone just because I see a mole on them! And I’m so looking forward to next week’s post, more on Diet and Lifestyle!