Thyroid Disease – Signs to look for in your skin

thyroid disease and your hair, skin, and nails

January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month. Many of the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease can be seen on the skin, hair, and nails.

Thyroid disease is very common, with an estimated 20 million people in the Unites States having some type of thyroid disorder. A woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.

Although your thyroid gland sits deep in your neck, your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice signs of thyroid disease. That’s because many signs and symptoms of thyroid disease develop on the skin, hair, and nails.

You, too, may also be able to spot thyroid disease, and that’s important. Caught early, treatment can prevent complications. When thyroid disease goes untreated for years, it can lead to a dangerously slow (or fast) heartbeat, an injury that refuses to heal, or unrelenting pain. You may have gained or lost weight for no apparent reason.

Thyroid disease in your skin

To help you find early (and some not-so-early) signs of thyroid disease on your skin, hair, and nails, here’s a checklist.

How many of these signs and symptoms do you have? Talk to your dermatologist at your next appointment.

☐ Dry, pale, and cool skin
☐ Moist, velvety, and warm skin like a baby’s
☐ Dry skin with deep cracks and scale
☐ Deep, noticeable lines on your palms and soles
☐ Yellowish-orange color on your palms and soles
☐ Doughy and swollen face, especially on your eyelids, lips, and tongue
☐ Widening nose
☐ Slow-healing wounds
☐ Sweating less (or more) than before
☐ Goiter (swelling in the neck)
☐ Protruding eyes
☐ Flushing on your face and red palms
☐ Darker skin in the creases of your palms, on your gums, or elsewhere in your mouth
☐ Rashes, especially in the creases of your skin
☐ Painless lumps and patches of scaly, discolored skin, and the affected skin feels hard and waxy
☐ Reddish spots on the skin that come and go

Signs of the issues with your thyroid, or thyroid disease, can also show up in your hair or nails. In addition to your skin, dermatologists also treat hair and nails.

Do any of these symptoms apply to you?


☐ Thinning (or missing) eyebrows on the outer edge
☐ Coarse, dull, dry, and brittle hair that breaks easily
☐ Soft and fine hair with lots of shedding
☐ Thinning hair or balding patches
☐ Growing more slowly (or quickly)
☐ Dry, itchy scalp and dandruff
☐ Less hair on your legs, arms, and other areas


☐ Thick, dry, and brittle with visible ridges
☐ Soft, shiny, and easily crumble
☐ Growing more slowly (or quickly)
☐ Peel, crumble, or break easily
☐ Lift up
☐ Curved with swollen fingertip and thickening skin above the nail

Existing skin disease

You have a higher risk of developing thyroid disease if you have one of the following:

☐ Vitiligo
☐ Hives
☐ Alopecia areata (autoimmune disease that causes hair loss)

When to contact your doctor

If you’ve checked off signs and are not feeling yourself, discuss this with your primary care doctor. These signs don’t necessarily mean that you have thyroid disease. By asking you about your symptoms, your doctor can decide whether you need a blood test to check for thyroid disease.

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