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Yes I Scan

By Linda Brockman
Posted On Sep 29, 2016
Yes I Scan

Simple to do, and well worth your time, these four self-check habits will keep you in top form.

We live with them every day…in them, to be more accurate. Yet the majority of human beings have difficulty listening to our bodies when they tell us what they need. A handful of simple self-check tests will keep your awareness keen and your body out of harm’s way. (These tests are not designed to replace a doctor’s care. If you discover anything suspicious or unusual about your health, please consult your physician.)

Check the Skin for Anything Unusual
Kim Rees, a mother of two, special education teacher, and independent skin-care consultant, advises that we get up close and personal with “differential recognition.” This means looking for the “ugly duckling,” the skin spot that doesn’t look like the others. “If it doesn’t look right, speak up,” Rees says.
There are several other skin signs to look for, according to Dr. Tanya Kormeili, a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. The first is a spot of any color that is not healing and continues to grow, bleed, or not heal. The next is a non-itchy, consistent rash. Finally, there are unwanted hairs—which are often hormonal but can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or skin tumor.

CHECK YOUR NAILS FOR CLUES TO HEALTH ISSUES

Keeping your skin, nails, and feet looking their best can offer valuable insight into a host of health conditions. “Nails are a window into our health in general, and reflect what is going on internally,” says Dr. Dana Stern, a New York City dermatologist. “An astute physician or educated person can learn a lot from looking at their nails.”

Spoon-shaped nails, or koilonychia, is the condition in which a nail is fragile and the tip turns up—concave instead of convex. “If you can balance a drop of water on it, the condition is classically associated with iron deficiency anemia,” says Dr. Stern. Ask your doctor to check your blood for an iron deficiency or other iron metabolic disorders.

A sudden change in the color of the nail is also a sign of potential internal changes. “Terry’s nails” is a condition in which two-thirds of the nail bed is white—as if it’s not getting the proper amount of blood flow— and the distal part (or tip) is the normal color of your skin. This could be the result of age, but it could also be an indicator of congestive heart failure, liver disease, or diabetes. A similar condition called “Lindsay’s nails,” is where nails are half white, and could indicate kidney disease.

CHECK YOUR FEET FOR BUMPS THAT CAN MULTIPLY

Whether you’re lying back at home or in the midst of a pedicure, be sure to check out your feet. Crusty little bumps on the toes and soles of the feet could be plantar warts (verruca plantaris), which can spread, says Dr. Peter Hilaris, a podiatrist in Hackensack, New Jersey. “People tend to think it is a corn or a callus, and ignore it,” he says. “If it is a wart, it will likely get bigger and spread to satellite lesions that end up growing.”

One way to differentiate it from a corn is to look for black pinpoint dots, which are blood vessels. A plantar wart can be especially painful on the sole of the foot, since it is weightbearing. “If you pinch it from the sides and that’s more painful than pushing it straight on, that’s a sign that it is a wart,” Dr. Hilaris says.

If the condition is spreading or causing you pain, a podiatrist can treat it conservatively with topical medication and debridement (shaving down damaged skin), or with laser or cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen).

TEST YOUR EYESIGHT WITH GRAPH PAPER

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most common diseases of the aging eye, and affects the sight in the center of the eye, says Dr. Rachel Bishop of the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Below is a simple test that can be done at home to check for macular degeneration. Look at a piece of graph paper, one eye at a time, with the other eye covered or closed. Look to see if the center of the lined paper appears distorted or blurred.

“The purpose of this test is to pick up on changes in the retina that someone would not pick up on in daily activity, since both eyes are open,” says Dr. Bishop. “If one eye has sharp vision, a person won’t notice that there is a problem.” Be sure to see an ophthalmologist if you notice changes in your vision