The Surprising Ways Your Thyroid Affects Your Skin and Hair
The Surprising Ways Your Thyroid Affects Your Skin and Hair

As your body’s biggest organ, the skin puts up with a lot of crap.

Noticeable Symptoms of Thyroid Issues on the Skin

According to Dr. Zenhausern, some of the most common skin symptoms and signs associated with thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism are “dry itchy skin, itchy flaking of the scalp, dry cracked heels [and] paleness of the skin.” In addition, Dr. Zenhausern says it’s not uncommon to experience dry, frizzy hair, thinning of the hair and loss of eyelashes. She also says loss of the outer-third of the eyebrows “is a huge sign that you should get your thyroid levels checked.”

When to See a Doctor

As far as when to see a doctor goes, Dr. Zenhausern suggests annual routine visits “as thyroid conditions can often be caught before severe symptoms occur.” That said, if you notice any of the above symptoms, consider scheduling an appointment to have your thyroid tested. “Your doctor will complete a physical exam to evaluate your thyroid,” says Dr. Zenhausern. In addition to completing a physical exam, a doctor “will also evaluate your thyroid hormones with a simple blood test known as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone comes from your pituitary gland and signals your thyroid to produce hormones,” she adds.

In addition to testing the thyroid-stimulating hormone, Dr. Zenhausern also stresses the importance of the T3 and T4 hormones as well as antibodies. “Antibodies will be present in autoimmune conditions of thyroid disorders. What this means is that antibodies (your own immune cells that should normally be fighting foreign invaders) are fighting your own body—in this case, your own thyroid,” she explains. “TSH, T4, T3 and thyroid antibodies can all be evaluated in the same blood draw, so make sure to ask your doctor for the comprehensive thyroid blood workup,” she concludes.

Most Common Thyroid Issues That Impact the Skin

“Thyroid conditions are broken down into two main categories,” says Dr. Zenhausern. “Hyperthyroid means your thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). “Hypothyroid means your thyroid is somewhat lazy and is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones,” she explains. Some of the most common symptoms for hyperthyroid include:

  • Hair loss
  • Bulging eyes
  • Enlarged thyroid
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Heat intolerance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased appetite
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Depression and mood swings

On the contrary, the most common symptoms for hypothyroid include:

  • Hair loss
  • Enlarged thyroid
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain

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