Diabetes, chronic pain and other health problems that affect your skin – 07/06/2022

It itches, itches, flakes, burns, lumps, cracks, spots, infects, weakens – when your cells do not rebel, multiply non-stop and generate a tumor. Many people’s skin suffers from very modern factors, ranging from climate change to hijacking hours of sleep by the light of a cell phone or computer screen. And not only that. Some diseases, which have become much more frequent these days, are also the cause of an explosion of skin problems. In the United States alone, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, they affect more than 85 million individuals.

“The skin is the boundary between two worlds, the interior of the human body and the interior environment. And it is constantly affected by everything that happens both inside and out,” says dermatologist Adriana Vilarinho, who yesterday published the book “Saúde à Flor en Pele “by the publisher Academia, which I contributed to the organization.

If you ask Adriana about a definition of beautiful skin, I already know by heart what the answer will be. “It’s healthy skin,” he usually replies without hesitation. It seems like a simple, almost simplistic answer – until you understand that you can not find it in a jar of cream and that you have to look at your body from head to toe. Here by the way, let’s start with the head …


Anxiety at height and endless worries cause the organism to appeal to a primitive physiological response, which it used to escape from a ferocious animal and return to its cave. Peripheral vessels contract and the circulation is more directed towards the muscles. Because the logic is to prepare the body to go away. “Given what the nervous system sees as a case of life or death, sending blood to the skin is no longer a priority,” Adriana learns.

The doctor agrees that it is difficult to determine to what extent this will favor dermatological problems and even skin aging, although we can deduce that at least tense muscles characterize the expression.

What happens in the blood is that when stress increases, the level of growth hormone released by the thyroid gland tends to decrease. “Throughout life, it is responsible for skin renewal day after day,” explains the dermatologist. Therefore, the reason why fatigue is literally on the face, depressed, by those facing a strenuous journey.

“Stress hormones primarily affect our ability to defend against a variety of diseases, including skin,” says Adriana. In fact, they even mess with the oil. “In the brain, stressful situations trigger orders for the adrenal gland just above the kidneys to produce more and more cortisol,” says the doctor. “This hormone in turn causes an increase in the production of the sebaceous glands.”

This is why some people, when they feel very anxious about an event, may wake up with a pimple on their face. “In addition to increasing fat, stress has been shown to induce the release of substances related to inflammation,” says Adriana. “So it’s not just about acne. Every dermatologist knows that more stressful periods aggravate inflammatory conditions like rosacea and psoriasis.”

In fact, science estimates that more than 40% of skin manifestations are affected by mental health problems. And it would be no use looking in the mirror without seeing yourself inside to take care of them.

chronic pain

However, stress is not just about emotional states: “Any disease that is capable of causing chronic pain can also lead to an excessive production of cortisol and such inflammatory molecules,” Adriana recalls.

In addition, many problems that cause excruciating pain – which in itself is stressful – also have inflammation behind them, which increases the amount of substances that are able to trigger or aggravate skin irritations. “If a part of the body constantly hurts, the skin suffers from it,” Adriana used to say.

And in this case, painkillers can mask the discomfort but do not resolve the inflammation. The problem at the root of it all must of course be solved or controlled if you want to see your skin get better.


Rest times must be respected. “It is during sleep that the body releases substances that repair tissues, especially growth hormones, a substance that is essential for skin renewal,” says the dermatologist, who is therefore in favor of the habit of sleeping earlier.

“The peak of the release of this hormone occurs in the early morning, but when you have already slept for a few hours. If the person goes to bed at 02.00, although he can wake up later and sleep eight hours, this release will already not be the same. ” That is, the person loses timing of the biological clock to renew your skin.

digestive problems

According to Adriana, those who have a digestive problem are unlikely to eat well or do not utilize the nutrients in their meals. “Vitamins A and E are essential for skin repair,” he exemplifies.

When ultra-processed foods in the diet replace fruits, vegetables and whole grains – in short, when no home-cooked food is served at the table – it all goes awry. “So not only because of the excess of salt, fat and sugar, but because the food, which is rich in ultra-processed foods, unbalances the intestinal microbiota,” Adriana explains.

According to her, several serious studies have already been published linking this imbalance of intestinal bacteria, known as dysbiosis, with skin problems, especially autoimmune diseases.

Another not so common digestive problem, but which is reflected in the dermatologist’s office, is the insufficiency of the lipase enzyme, which would break down the fat molecules in meals to be absorbed in the gut.

When that happens, you feel stuffed when you nibble on a pastry, taste the grilled meat, try any dish with a little more oil. “The skin is therefore usually much drier,” says Adriana. “It’s because the body does not utilize the fat in food, and it is also important in portions without overdoing it.”


According to Adriana Vilarinho, mycoses or frequent bacterial infections should make the doctor suspect diabetes and ask for tests to rule out the suspicion. “High blood sugar usually causes these recurrent infections,” he explains. “And if the person knows he has diabetes, they give away that he is not controlling his blood sugar properly.”

Easy to understand: overdose of sugar in the bloodstream affects the vessels. And in general, those who are thinner, such as those who supply the skin, are the first to be harmed. Not only are nutrients and oxygen lacking which would be brought about by the flow of blood. Defense cells also do not quickly reach the area where an injury eventually occurred.

“In this way, any harm serves as an opening for bacteria and other harmful substances,” Adriana concludes. Therefore, injuries in people with uncontrolled diabetes deserve a lot of care. Also because – once again due to the difficulties that the blood has to reach – the healing processes tend to be slower in these patients.

And even without wounds, fungi can attach, precisely because “diabetics have more colds and other mycoses than the average population,” says Adriana.

The most serious, however, is that high glucose is toxic to the nerves. “Right at the beginning, when they start to get damaged, the person may experience a generalized itching or have a feeling of small needles,” he warns.

The loss of sensitivity that follows shortly after is very dangerous: the subject may be injured and not realize it while the lesion is being infected. An ingrown toenail is only able to be noticed when it turns into a gnawing wound.

“To complete, in the body with diabetes, the deficiency or inadequacy of insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas, which would cause glucose to enter the cells, affects the growth of skin cells called keratinocytes,” says Adriana. Result: loss of elasticity, as if the person were a few years older.


“The skin of the obese tends to become more oily. The secretion of the sebaceous glands is more intense, therefore the risk of spreading microbes is greater,” describes the dermatologist.

Body fat, in turn, forms a kind of thermal insulator that makes it difficult to exchange heat with the surroundings, and to compensate for that, the skin throws more sweat. The problem is that the double sebum and sweat accumulate in areas with body folds, such as the groin, and can create diaper rash.


In addition to the toxins inhaled with cigarettes that generate an exorbitant amount of free radicals that will damage cells – and not just the skin – nicotine is a potent vasoconstrictor. Once again, it’s that story: Since those who supply the skin are very thin, it soon suffers from a lack of adequate oxygen and nutrients. The elastic fibers that support this tissue, such as collagen, make this clear. Yes, smoking makes the skin much older. It may be the slightest reason why someone quits smoking, but it’s still an added stimulus.

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