These Sudden Physical Changes Could Be a Sign Your Body Is Fighting a Hidden Disease

Have you noticed dry skin, hair loss, or weight gain — but can’t identify any logical reasons why? Sometimes, symptoms like these mean there’s something going on somewhere else inside. Your body could be fighting a serious disease, and you don’t know it.

Here are a few health conditions that can impact your physical appearance — and other symptoms to watch out for.

Lupus

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: (L-R) Actors Latarsha Rose, B.J. Britt, Margaret Avery, Nick Cannon, Ian Harding and NBC4 LA anchor Kathy Vara attend the Walk to End Lupus Now event at Exposition Park on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Lupus has a host of symptoms. | Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Lupus Foundation of America

Many diseases come with signs you can see from the outside — and symptoms you can’t. This autoimmune condition can result in swollen joints, a rash across the nose and cheeks, or hair loss. Other symptoms might include fatigue, headaches, mouth or nose ulcers, and light sensitivity. Lupus can also cause anemia, which can give your skin a frighteningly pale appearance.

Vitiligo

African American female brown watchful eye

Vitiligo can effect various parts of your body. | iStock.com/phakimata

Melanin is a chemical in your body responsible for the color of your skin and hair. Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce this chemical die or stop working. According to Mayo Clinic, this condition can affect the skin anywhere on your body, as well as your hair. Usually, patches of skin appear colorless, while other areas of skin retain their normal coloring.

Hypothyroidism

Human Thyroid Gland Illustration

Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain. | iStock.com/Nerthuz

An underactive thyroid slows metabolism, which can affect your life significantly. According to the American Thyroid Association, hypothyroidism can cause dry skin and weight gain. People with this condition sometimes feel abnormally cold, depressed, and suffer from constipation. Many people can take medications to replace the thyroid hormones their body can’t make on its own.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Woman trying to button her pants.

PCOS can cause unintentional weight gain. | Voyagerix/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

Sometimes, multiple cysts develop on a woman’s ovaries, which cause hormone imbalances — and many unwanted side effects. Women living with PCOS often experience unintentional weight gain, excessive body hair or facial hair growth, and adult acne. It’s not uncommon to also notice symptoms like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and side effects like infertility.

Alopecia

Woman with itchy scalp dandruff

Suddenly losing hair is a cause for concern. | LarsZahnerPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

If you start losing your hair — in large amounts, unexpectedly, usually on your scalp and on your face — you could have alopecia, says the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. This is an autoimmune skin condition in which the immune system mistakingly attacks hair follicle cells, thinking they’re the enemy. Lost hair often grows back, but often falls out again.

Diabetes

man is measuring the level of glucose

It’s important you properly manage your diabetes. | iStock.com/BernardaSv

If you don’t manage your diabetes, warns Healthline, it can cause dry, cracked skin, as well as a host of fungal or bacterial infections between the fingers or toes, in your armpits, or at the corners of your mouth. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, glaucoma, nerve damage, and more.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis on elbow

Psoriasis can be treated. | iStock.com/Suze777

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that results in red, scaly patches on your skin. Sometimes, a person’s skin begins to crack or bleed. If you have plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the disease, these scale-covered skin patches might itch or burn, causing not only psychological distress in response to the way it looks, but physical discomfort.

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