What Your Face Can Reveal About Your Health

You can tell a lot by reading a person’s face. And you can even learn a little more about yourself by looking in the mirror at your own countenance. Many medical conditions show symptoms on your face — if you know what you’re looking for. Here are 15 health issues your face can reveal.

1. Asymmetrical features

Not many people have perfectly symmetrical faces. And there’s nothing to worry about mild, unchanging asymmetry. Genetics, aging, injury (e.g., a broken nose) or dental work may contribute to facial asymmetry, according to Healthline. But if you notice your face suddenly seems a little crooked, that might be cause for concern. A stroke or Bell’s palsy (the paralysis of facial nerves, possibly from a virus) can make your features suddenly uneven. If that’s the case, seek immediate medical attention.

2. Discolored skin

The hue of your skin can say a lot about your internal health. For instance, yellowing of the skin or eyes can be a sign of liver disease, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Likewise, pale skin may indicate anemia, and a blue tint can be symptomatic of a vascular issue. So if your complexion looks off to you, be sure to bring it up with your doctor.

3. Cracked or chapped lips

a close-up shot of chapped lips

You might experience chapped lips in the winter, thanks to cold, dry air. That’s typically nothing to be concerned about, though you might want to invest in some lip balm. But cracked lips also can be symptomatic of dehydration, allergies and even vitamin and mineral deficiencies, according to Healthline. Vitamin B plays a role in your skin health, so low levels might show up as cracked lips. “Low levels of zinc and iron can also lead to split lips, especially at the corners of the mouth,” Healthline says.

4. Dry or itchy skin

Just like with chapped lips, dry skin on your face might simply be environmental. Dry weather, hot showers and harsh soaps all can strip your skin of its moisture. But dry or itchy skin also may be a sign of several medical conditions, including hypothyroidism and diabetes. So if you have frequent dry skin, it’s worth discussing it with your doctor to rule out any underlying cause.

5. Yellow bumps on your eyelids

If you notice any soft, yellow bumps on your eyelids, you might want to get your heart checked. The bumps might be cholesterol deposits called xanthelasmata. “Xanthelasmata are strikingly similar to the cholesterol deposits that develop inside blood vessels and contribute to atherosclerosis,” according to Harvard Medical School. “This raises the question of whether the eyelids might provide a diagnostic window into the heart.” In fact, a Danish study found people with xanthelasmata were more likely to have a heart attack and develop heart disease, even when their cholesterol levels were normal. But more research still must be done on the topic.

6. Small, recessed lower jaw

If your lower jaw is especially recessed compared to your upper jaw, you might have retrognathia. This condition can cause jaw pain, difficulty eating and teeth misalignment, according to Healthline. And it also can indicate a person is at risk of snoring or sleep apnea — as the recessed jaw leaves less room for the tongue, causing airway obstruction. Fortunately, mild cases of retrognathia often require no medical intervention.

7. Eye puffiness

Bags under the eyes commonly form as you age, and that’s rarely a medical issue. But the swelling also can be a sign of certain medical conditions. Frequent eye puffiness is telltale of chronic allergies and should go away once the allergies are treated, according to Cleveland Clinic. Other conditions that may cause eye swelling include infection, trauma and Graves’ disease (a thyroid disorder).

8. Red eyes

a close-up shot of a red, bloodshot eye

Most people have experienced bloodshot eyes, and typically the culprit is relatively easy to pinpoint — staying up too late, too much screen time, poking yourself in the eye, etc. But red eyes can be symptomatic of many other conditions. Allergies and infection commonly cause bloodshot eyes, along with itching, burning and other symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. And even glaucoma, which can lead to blindness, may show up as eye redness.

9. Acne

Acne affects people in various ways. And its causes can be more than skin-deep. Hormones, medications, diet and stress all can trigger or worsen acne, according to Mayo Clinic. For some people, that’s largely unavoidable — such as when hormones fluctuate during puberty or menstrual cycles. But for others, acne flare-ups might be a sign they need to alleviate stressors in their lives or omit certain foods from their diets.

10. A malar rash

A malar rash — commonly called a butterfly rash — spans across both cheeks and the nose. It’s frequently seen in people who have lupus, though it can be symptomatic of many other conditions. According to Healthline, sunlight can trigger the rash, which may be scaly, itchy or painful. Besides lupus, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and certain bacterial infections are some other conditions associated with the rash.

11. Excess facial hair in women

The amount of body hair people have is primarily due to genetics, so the “normal” range widely varies. But some women might have hirsutism, which “results in excessive amounts of dark, coarse hair on body areas where men typically grow hair — face, chest and back,” according to Mayo Clinic. It can occur when women have an excess of male sex hormones. And some conditions where this happens include polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and tumors.

12. Hair loss

On the flip side, some people might experience excess hair loss on their face. This can be a sign of alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease. Besides losing hair from your scalp, you might notice hair loss from your eyelashes, eyebrows and beard, Healthline says. It might occur in small patches or fall out completely. And hair might even fall out, regrow and then fall out again.

13. Any abnormal changes to your skin

Because skin cancer most often develops on areas exposed to sunlight, your face is a prime target. So it’s important to know what to look for. According to Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include a pearly or waxy bump; a flat, flesh-colored lesion; or a brown, scar-like lesion. Squamous cell carcinoma may present as a firm, red nodule or a flat, crusty lesion. And signs of melanoma include a large, brownish spot with dark speckles; a changing or bleeding mole; or a small lesion with an irregular border. If you notice any changes to your skin that seem strange, it’s best to be safe and see a doctor.

14. A serious look

Sometimes, a serious or angry look on your face might be more than just emotions. A hardened expression — known as facial masking or hypomimia — can actually be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. “When the muscles of the face are stiff or take longer to move, it can be hard to crack a smile, raise your eyebrows or otherwise express your feelings using your face,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Some medications also can affect your face in the same way, so if you notice a change in your expressions it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine the root cause.

15. A less-than-stellar smile

a person puts toothpaste on a toothbrush

That smile on your face is a major indicator of your overall health. And if you have problems with your oral health, that might be contributing to other diseases in your body, as well. According to Mayo Clinic, poor oral hygiene can lead to endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart) and cardiovascular disease. “Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren’s syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth,” Mayo Clinic says. So keep up with your oral hygiene, and head to the dentist at the first sign of an issue before it becomes a larger health crisis.

Main image credit: Peopleimages/Getty Images

51 comments

Past Member
Past Member 2 days ago

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Joemar K
Joemar K3 days ago

Thanks

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Louise R
Louise R3 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Janet B
Janet B3 days ago

Thanks

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Nita L
Nita L4 days ago

Thank you.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h4 days ago

tyfs

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Mary B
Mary B5 days ago

Like Garfield the cat used to say, "If I felt like popping out of bed in the morning, I'd sleep in a toaster..." Telling someone to smile is intrusive. Reverse it and think how it would feel for someone to say wipe that smile off your face .

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Martin H
Martin H5 days ago

interesting

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O5 days ago

I have little patches of dry itchy skin, but was told it was quite normal as one grows older? Then there is just the wrinkles from smiling a lot...

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