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Obesity and skin problems: top skincare concerns of the overweight

Overweight teenage boy holding his excess abdominal fat.
Overweight teenage boy holding his excess abdominal fat.
Wikimedia commons/OctoMocto

Being overweight often gives men and women a false sense of well being when it comes to their skin. "My skin doesn't have any wrinkles!" an overweight person might be tempted to say. It is a fact that many obese people have fewer lines and wrinkles than their healthier counterparts. That is not because their skin is healthier, however, but because adipose tissue or body fat is loose connective tissue.

Fat as a Filler

Overweight people don't have to buy injectable fillers -- they have a natural filler--the fatty adipose tissue of obesity. When fat replaces collagen as the new "filler," subcutaneous fat pushes wrinkles out as the skin is stretched over fat. When an overweight person loses weight, suddenly their face is full of wrinkles and folds as the fat disappears that was plumping the skin.

Obesity and Skin Conditions

Does this mean people who are overweight should not lose weight? On the contrary. All that weight is very likely leading to other skin problems. One of the most common issues is stretch marks from the stretching of the skin over the fat. Skin tag are asnother common issue related to weight.

Obesity and Skin Tags

Brown papules or soft hanging skin known as skin tags often appear on the necks of obese people as well as other places on the body where skin may rub against skin. Also known as acrochordons, cutaneous papilloma, and fibroepitheliomas, tags are generally found in skin creases and folds and are much more common on the overweight.

Obesity and Skin Darkening

Obesity often also causes changes in hormones. This can result in a condition knows as "acanthosis nigricans" which causes darkened, velvety areas of the neck and body folds. Skin folds are not only likely to produce skin darkening and skin tags, folds on obese people are likely to lead to skin breakdown.

Obesity and Skin Breakdown

The high amount of perspiration in an obese person also contributes to problems with the skin. If the the overlapping fat rolls of body folds hold moisture, that moist environment encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi. Moisture-associated skin damage is commonly diagnosed as interiginous dermatitis (intertrigo). This leads to skin rashes, potential breakdown of tissue, and a variety of skin infections.

Other Skin Problems of the Overweight

Too much weight causes increased strain on the leg veins which may lead to fluid retention, leg swelling, rupture of superficial capillaries (capillaritis), varicose veins, dermatitis, and even ulcers.

Skin Problem Warning Signs

Warning signs of a pending skin problem include: itching, burning, pain, odor and redness. Many of these skin problems can be prevented or cured with healthy diet, exercise and subsequent weight loss, and some skin care products can help soothe irritated skin.

Overweight skin may be plumped up so that wrinkles are filled by a layer of fat, but it is not healthy skin. Help your skin be the healthiest it can be by shedding the excess pounds through better diet and exercise.


Treatment for Irritated Skin

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