Skin, nail, hair tell inner health stories -Abu Muaj, Zayed Shahnewaz
We see hundreds of people around us everyday but we can’t see their inner selves. We actually come across different types of skins and faces. In the days of coronavirus pandemic, mandatory use of masks has made the act of seeing other’s external organs even more difficult in neo-normal situation. Anyway, what we saw pre-pandemic period is the outer selves of human— limbs and organs like face, hair, nail and skin. At best the chance seeing of the inside of the mouth when s/he yawns. And that’s all. Among these three human organs, skin is the biggest part which catches our sight and attention. A friend’s healthy skin makes its viewers in common and peers in particular happy. If anyone looks smart to their near and dear ones, it is because his or her sound and healthy skin. If face is the index of mind, maybe skin, which itself is an outer human organ, can be called the index of inner physical health. In old good days, people used to feel the pulse and tell many diseases including gas, fever and some other diseases. That was the days of Ilm al Ferasa.
Scholars of 8th century to 14th century used to cultivate Ilm al Ferasa. Exactly it is foresight — derived from multi-disciplinary knowledge and wide-ranging studies — possessed by the polymaths.But in this age of ‘excessive’s pecialisation, Ilm al Ferasahas gone with the wind of narrowing down the area of study.Those, who used to gain all types of knowledge, have turned into ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’
In this world, we are exposed to modern science in every sector including medical and health sectors. But our health condition is getting worse day by day. Unhealthy diet practices, less physical activity, stress, depression are making into sick nation and thus various types of diseases have dogged our health day by day. We come across a range of people, wearing different types of dresses and makeup’s. But is each of them hale and hearty? No. Most of them have problems, be it minor to severe. It is quite difficult to identify someone who are in trouble with their health by seeing that person outward. All the problems can So the question is, how can we define a person whether he/she is healthy & gutsy or not by observing his/her outward problems?
If a person has problems such as asthma, mutilation, exudation, goitre etc, these can be easily detected as serious health problems. But if someone has internal problems, all of these can’t be detected by observing outwardly manifestation. What do we guess by observing other’s skin or external human organs?
We know skin is the largest organ of our body. If any disease has some repercussionon our skin, we can easily detect that something has gone wrong in our body. To know about these, first we have to know the basic functions of skin. Covering an average of 20 square feet, the skin is the body’s largest and heaviest organ. Contains about 16% of our body weight. Alongside its role as a protective barrier, the skin helps us maintain the right internal temperature and allows us to sense the world through nerve endings. Skin is a complex organ; an average square inch of skin contains 650 body glands, 20 blood vessels, and more than 1,000 nerve endings. Despite being just a few millimeters thick, skin makes up around one seventh of our body weight. The epidermis is the outermost layer; it is a waterproof barrier that gives skin its tone. Dead cells are shed continuously from the epidermis as new ones take their place. We shed around 500 million skin cells each day. In fact, the outermost parts of the epidermis consist of 25–30 layers of dead cells which are called keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are the most common cell type within the epidermis; their job is to act as a barrier to bacteria, parasites, fungi, viruses, heat, ultraviolet rays from the sun, and water loss. The colour of our skin is produced by a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocytes; these are found in the epidermis and protect the skin from UV rays. Skin is the foundation of our integumentary system which also incorporates with hair, nails, special glands and nerves. The thickness varies from .5 mm to 4 mm.It has three key functions; protecting, regulating & sensing. As skin is the outer part of the body that is exposed in the air, different types of microbial attacks occur in skin that can cause various types of skin diseases. Skin disorders vary greatly in symptoms and severity. They can be temporary or permanent, and may be painless or painful. Some have situational causes, while others may be genetic. Some skin conditions are minor and others can be life-threatening.
Followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were relatively poor but they looked rich and it is because of their better skin. Innocent mind corresponds to innocent face and look. Muslims, who wash their hands and faces, usually look neat and clean with fresh skin particularly bearded face. A crooked mind corresponds to a crooked face.
There are hundreds of skin conditions that affect humans. The most common skin conditions can have some symptoms that are similar, so it is important to understand the differences between them. A number of skin conditions last for a long time. Some may start in childhood and continue into adulthood. In some cases, the condition will not always be present but will flare up at certain times. These are seborrheic dermatitis, moles, melanoma, rosacea, lupus, psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo etc.Temporary diseases like acne, hives, warts, fungal infections,cold sore, athlete’s foot etc are mainly caused by different types of microbial attacks.
Now we’ll discuss about some diseases which can be detected by checking up skin.
Eczema: Eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, can cause dry, itchy, inflamed and cracked skin. It has immunological, genetic and environmental components and is also related to asthma and hay fever.
Dark circles: Dark undereyes can be a combination of genetics, age or lifestyle factors. Anatomically as you age, the fat pads and structural support around your eyes changes so you can see more of the hollows. Dark skin under your eyes can also be caused by a nutrient deficiency, a lack of hydration or not getting enough sleep.
Excess fine white hairs: Normally skin cancer shows up on the epidermis. But sometimes internal cancers such as gastrointestinal (GI), lung or ovarian, can have skin symptoms, too. A condition called acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa is when people develop excess fine white hairs, usually on their face, that’s known as a “malignant down” and is an ominous sign of internal malignancy most commonly associated with lung and colon cancers.
Hypothyroidism: Hair and nail health is part of skin health. In advanced cases, people with hypothyroidism might notice a thickening of the skin on their calves. Fortunately, most of these symptoms will go away after the low thyroid levels are treated. Women suffers it most.
Diabetes: High blood sugar on blood has impact on our skin that could be signaling it with a sign called a plaque. Too much blood sugar leads to changes in blood vessels in the skin. This results in shiny, thickened areas known as plaques. Areas of hyperpigmentation, or darkened skin tone, can also arise due to underlying diabetes. As diabetes progresses, elevated blood sugar can interfere with your skin’s ability to serve as a barrier. As you lose circulation and sensation, you also compromise the ability of healthy skin to fight off infections. This is why people with diabetes are strongly advised to check their feet daily for small cuts and sores and to treat them immediately to prevent dangerous complications.
High cholesterol: High cholesterol level can be deadly.People with untreated, high cholesterol can develop deposits of cholesterol build up in the skin. These deposits can lead to yellowish bumps known as xanthelasma, or xanthomas. This type of cholesterol built up rare and generally occurs in people with severely elevated cholesterol or TG levels due to a genetic disorder or liver disease.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels. Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant. PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. And it can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Some diseases affect hair and nails also.As these are the part of skin so now we’ll discuss about those diseases and symptoms. Common problems affecting the hair and scalp include hair loss, infections and disorders causing itching and scaling. Hair loss (alopecia) is a frequent concern for both men and women, although it is normal to shed some hair each day. People who experience more than normal hair loss may have the inherited tendency to “common baldness.” Male pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men, with a receding hairline and baldness on the top of the head. Women may develop female pattern baldness in which the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp. Sudden and temporary loss of a large amount of hair may be related to the stress of an illness or recent delivery of a baby (telogen effluvium). Alopecia areata causes hair loss in small, round patches while tight elastics or braids may cause hair loss at the hairline (traction alopecia). Certain diseases (eg, thyroid problems, diabetes, and lupus), medicines, or poor nutrition may also cause hair loss. Infections of the scalp include bacterial infection of hair follicles (folliculitis), infestation of head lice (pediculosis capitis), and fungal infection of scalp ringworm (tinea capitis). Itching and excessive flaking of the scalp is seen with both dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) and psoriasis.
Now let’s know about nails. A nail is a claw-like keratinous plate at the tip of the fingers and toes in most primates. Nails correspond to claws found in other animals. Fingernails and toenails are made of a tough protective protein called alpha keratin which is a polymer and found in the hooves, hair, claws and horns of vertebrates. Healthy nails appear smooth and have consistent colouring. As you age, you may develop vertical ridges, or your nails may be a bit more brittle. This is harmless. Spots due to injury should grow out with the nail.
Abnormalities of fingernails are discoloration changes in nail shape, changes in nail thickness, brittle, pitted, bleeding around nails, swelling or redness around nails, nail separating from the skin. These problems can be named as
Beau’s lines: Depressions that run across your fingernail are called Beau’s lines. These can be a sign of malnourishment. Pneumonia, uncontrolled diabetes, measles, mumps and Zn deficiency can cause this.
Clubbing: It occurs when your nails thicken and curve around your fingertips, a process that generally takes years. This can be the result of low oxygen in the blood and is associated with CVD, liver disease, pulmonary diseases, AIDS.
Koilonychia: When your fingernails have raised ridges and scoop outward, like spoons is called koilonychia. It’s also called “spooning.” Sometimes the nail is curved enough to hold a drop of liquid. Iron deficiency anemia, heart disease, hypothyroidism causes this.
Leukonychia: White spots or lines on the nail are called leukonychia. They’re usually the result of a minor trauma and are harmless in healthy individuals. Sometimes leukonychia is associated with poor health or nutritional deficiencies. Factors can include infectious, metabolic, or systemic diseases as well as certain drugs.
Skin, nail and hair tell inner health stories as they are the outer human organs. If one has deep knowledge about these organs and their diseases along with the diets that cure the diseases may take charge of his or her own health, stay safe and lead a better life. Moreover, skin has over 360 acupressure points. Some sort of physical exercise and putting pressure on such points in prescribed ways. Prayers, which involve different body postures and movement at day and night, can be used to tone up the skin instead of being hell-bent to skin cream.