Signs of illness written all over your face

When doctors talk face-to-face with patients, it’s not just about building rapport. Certain facial features can reveal vital clues to underlying health conditions. We asked doctors across the country to share what they look for when examining patients.

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pores on the skin of the face.  Cleaning the facial skinGeinz Angelina/Shutterstock

Dry, flaky skin or lips

This is a common warning sign of dehydration. It could also indicate a more serious problem that affects how the sweat gland works, such as hypothyroidism (characterized by insufficient thyroid hormone) or diabetes, says Roshini Raj, MD, assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine and author of What the bah?! Other signs of hypothyroidism include feeling cold, weight gain, and fatigue. Symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, and blurred vision. The symptom may also indicate eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, or an allergic reaction to drugs. Here are more signs of illness your skin may reveal.

A young woman plucks her hair over her upper lip with tweezers.  The concept of getting rid of unwanted facial hair.  Detail shotSTEKLO/Shutterstock

Excess facial hair

Unwanted hair, especially along the jawline, chin, and upper lip, can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance in which male hormone levels are elevated. The condition can affect five million American women of reproductive age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Make sure you know the diseases that doctors are most likely to overlook. But don’t immediately assume that something is wrong: Excess hair on your face could just be a trait you inherited. Here are 42 strange symptoms that could indicate a serious underlying condition.

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