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Skin Problems Related to Obesity

Being overweight (obesity) may cause skin problems due to several factors. Changes in hormones may cause acanthosis nigricans, which are darkened, velvety areas of the neck and body folds, while stretching of the skin may result in stretch marks (striae). Increased strain on the leg veins may cause fluid retention, leg swelling, rupture of superficial capillaries (capillaritis), varicose veins, dermatitis, and even ulcers. Retained moisture in body folds encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi, leading to skin rashes and potential breakdown and a variety of infections, such as intertrigo. Finally, the foot may develop corns and calluses due to the increased weight. Many of these skin problems will resolve with a healthy diet and subsequent weight loss.

Click any of the images below to gain medical information about what skin changes are common in obesity.

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Acanthosis Nigricans Acanthosis nigricans is a condition characterized by abnormal thickening and darkening of the skin, especially in body creases. It is most commonly associated with obesity or polycystic ovarian disease in…
Callus A callus (tyloma) is a thickening of the skin that occurs in response to excessive, repeated shear or friction forces, commonly due to constant rubbing of the skin.
Skin Tag (Acrochordon) A skin tag (acrochordon) is a common, possibly inherited condition that manifests as small, flesh-colored growths on a thin stalk. Skin tags are benign lesions that can sometimes become irritated or traumatized.
Capillaritis Capillaritis is characterized by leakage of red blood cells from small, superficial blood vessels that results in pinpoint-like hemorrhages (petechiae). Capillaritis is frequently found in patients with long…
Folliculitis Folliculitis is a skin condition caused by an inflammation of one or more hair follicles in a limited area. It typically occurs in areas of irritation, such as sites of shaving, skin friction, or rubbing from…
Cellulitis Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and is most often caused by the bacteria Streptococcus or Staphylococcus. These bacteria are able to enter the skin through small cracks (fissures), causing…
Corn Corns are thickenings of the skin composed of keratin that are typically found on the toes caused by repeated friction or pressure to the area. The base of the corn is seen on the surface of the skin while the top points…
Stasis Dermatitis Dermatitis is a term used to describe irritation of the skin with scaling, rough or dry skin, redness, itching, and sometimes oozing, crusts, and erosions. Stasis is a term used to describe leg swelling seen in…
Erythrasma Erythrasma is a common chronic skin condition affecting the skin folds. The slowly enlarging patches of pink to brown dry skin are caused by an infection by the bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum.
Stretch Marks (Striae) Stretch marks (striae) are stripe-like skin marks that develop as a result of rapid weight gain or loss, when the skin is stretched, and as a result of some diseases.
Stasis Ulcer A stasis ulcer is a breakdown of the skin (ulcer) caused by fluid build-up in the skin from poor vein function (venous insufficiency). Fluid leaks from the veins into skin tissue when the blood backs up rather than…
Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a surface (superficial) fungal infection of the skin on either side of the body where the thigh joins the abdomen, known as the groin. It is often spread to the groin from tinea infection on…
Varicose Veins (Varicosities) Varicose veins (varicosities) are twisted, enlarged veins at the skin surface. The word comes from the Latin word varix, which means "twisted."