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Breaking Out? What Your Skin Says About Your Health

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Breaking Out? What Your Skin Says About Your Health

“Your skin is a reflection of your general health,” says Dr. Valerie Goldburt, a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center and a dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology’s Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. Breakouts in particular can be caused by a number of factors, including a reaction to your skin care products or makeup, she explains.

However, sudden spots are often due to … you guessed it, stress! That stress can be chronic (like ongoing job-related angst), or it can be situational, acute stress, like a break-up or the passing of a loved one. “Positive things (like getting engaged or married) can also be stressful,” Goldburt adds.

In addition to alerting you that you should pay closer attention to your stress levels, a breakout can also indicate that your immune system is compromised. “When you experience stress, your immune system doesn’t function the same way,” says Goldburt, noting that hormones also play into this, because hormonal changes can also cause both stress and breakouts.

Your breakouts might also be telling you that something in your diet needs to change. “Breakouts can be caused by milk products and products with a high glycemic index, like white breads and processed foods,” says Goldburt.

What else can your skin tell you? For starters, that you’re not getting enough sleep. Take a look in the mirror — is the skin around your eyes a little puffy? Is your skin dry and irritated? You probably need to devote a little more time to your beauty zzz’s — not just for your skin, but for your general health and well-being.

Dry, puffy skin and a slight discoloration can be a sign that you’ve been drinking too much alcohol. The older you get, says Goldburt, the longer it takes your pretty face to recuperate from a cocktail hour that lasted into the wee hours.

“As people get older, you start to see more long-term changes, like wrinkling,” says Goldburt. Yikes!

So next time you wake up with a nasty zit, use it as an opportunity to take a good look in the mirror, literally and figuratively speaking. “Ninety-five percent of the time,” Goldburt says, “skin conditions on the face have to do with lifestyle, food, stress and drinking.”

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