Symptoms of Poor Circulation In this article, we will focus on the symptoms of poor circulation and when you should seek medical help. Signs of Poor Circulation 1. Varicose Veins If the valves in the veins of the legs are damaged, your blood will find it difficult to get back to the heart. This results in engorged veins and will eventually cause varicosities in the legs. Varicose veins are more common to those who regularly stand for long periods. 2. Painful Muscle Cramping The most common symptom of poor circulation is claudication, described as muscle discomfort or painful cramping, particularly in the legs. This is felt when you exercise or walk and usually disappears after resting your legs. The muscles that are most involved are the hips, thighs or calves. Claudication happens if there is a hindrance to the normal blood flow. For example, in atherosclerosis, where there is a buildup of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels, the muscles cannot get enough blood during physical activity. The cramping pain is the muscle’s way of warning you that it is not getting enough blood during exercise to meet its increased demand. 3. Numbness or Weakness Reduced blood flow to different body parts may cause slow and irreversible damage to the nerves, which may be felt as tingling, numbness or weakness in that area. This is particularly alarming because having numbness on the extremities decreases your skin’s sensitivity to pain. As a result, there may be instances where your skin has already been damaged or wounded, but you cannot feel it. 4. Temperature Differences in the Extremities Poor circulation can lead to fluctuations in your skin’s temperature regulation. For example, reduced blood flow to your hands or feet may make them colder than the other parts of your body. To assess the temperature of your skin, you can use the back of your hands for a more accurate assessment. 5. Wounds That Do Not Heal or Heal Slowly Wounds heal by the different components and cells delivered through the bloodstream to the affected area. When blood flow is compromised, the healing process takes much longer and may even lead to infections. Even the slightest break in the skin may lead to catastrophic changes that could lead to amputation, especially in people with diabetes. 6. Change of Skin Color When there is insufficient blood flow, the skin may appear pale or blue (cyanosis). The change of color in the skin indicates that the oxygen-rich blood is unable to reach those tissues. The commonly affected body parts that may have this symptom are the toes, fingers, palms, soles and lips. [youmaylike] 7. Poor Hair or Nail Growth Hair and nails need the nutrients in your body to keep them healthy. Nutrients are delivered to the hair and nails through the blood. Therefore, any blockage or hindrance of the normal circulation of blood may affect the growth of healthy hair and nails, which can lead to hair loss or poor nail growth. 8. Shiny Skin on Legs Shiny skin on the legs can indicate that the skin stretched due to excess fluids in the legs. Poor circulation can cause blood pooling in the legs, resulting in fluid leakage from the blood vessels to the surrounding tissues. In turn, the skin will stretch, giving it a shiny appearance. 9. Weak Pulses When blood flow is restricted, the usual, brisk pulses on the extremities become weaker. Doctors usually include this in their physical examination to rule out any peripheral arterial disease. 10. Erectile Dysfunction in Men The penis is made up mostly of blood vessels. Penile erection happens because the arteries of the penis are filled up with blood to elongate and stiffen the organ. When there is poor circulation, blood cannot fill up the blood vessels in the penis. Most cases of impotence are a complication primarily of the arterial system. What is Poor Circulation? Poor circulation is not a condition in itself, but having any of its symptoms may indicate more serious conditions, such as: Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Uncontrolled diabetes. Blood clots. Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in the vessels). Heart conditions. Having poor circulation may not be apparent initially. Still, whether you experience symptoms or not, it is important to be aware of them early on to help detect the underlying cause. For example, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity are all factors that increase the likelihood of a person experiencing poor circulation symptoms. In Review The symptoms of poor circulation may vary for each person. In general, conditions that cause poor circulation are easier to treat when your doctor detects it early. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that it may be caused by a dysfunction in your normal blood circulation, it is essential that you see your doctor for assessment and treatment right away.
What is Melasma?
As early as 470 to 360 BC, during the time of Hippocrates, skin discoloration worsening after sun exposure and heat was discovered. Eventually, this skin condition was named chloasma and what we now commonly know as melasma. So, what is melasma?
Although it is not life-threatening, melasma can have an impact on a person’s physical appearance, leading to psychosocial and emotional distress. This can affect a person’s quality of life, self-esteem and wellbeing. This article will discuss what melasma is, what causes it and its common symptoms. We will also outline the top treatments for melasma and how it can be prevented.
Melasma is an acquired skin condition characterized by increased pigmentation in the face (hyperpigmentation). Melasma usually occurs more often in females and in people with darker skin. In America, it is common among people residing in the intertropical areas where there is greater exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Melasma usually appears between the age group of 20 to 40 years old, especially among females in their reproductive years. It is rarely seen before puberty.
What Causes Melasma?
The exact cause of melasma is unknown, but throughout the years, factors that trigger melasma have been identified. The main triggers are usually radiation and hormones.
Radiation, whether ultraviolet light, visible light, or infrared light can cause melasma. Sunlight exposure makes it worse and is the most important trigger. People who are exposed to ultraviolet radiation have an increased risk for developing melasma.
Furthermore, because it is affected by hormones, there is an increased risk for melasma during pregnancy. Around 50% to 70% of pregnant people report having it. People who take oral contraceptives or people who undergo hormonal therapy also have a higher risk for melasma.
Other risk factors include stress and exposure to certain cosmetics or medications (such as some anti-seizure and phototoxic medications). A family history of can also increase the chances of someone having this condition by 50%.
The exact cause of hyperpigmentation is still being studied, but it is observed that the effect leads to skin cells (melanocytes) being stimulated by hormones (estrogen or progesterone), which leads to the increased production of melanin pigments that cause hyperpigmentation. This is further exacerbated when exposed to radiation, such as being under the sun for significant periods of time. UV exposure is said to directly stimulate the activity of melanocytes, leading to increased pigmentation.
What Are the Symptoms?
It is characterized by hyperpigmentation. The hyperpigmentation is symmetric and presents as brown or grey patches. These patches usually have irregular contours. The patches are usually seen in various areas of the skin but especially in the sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck. In Around 50% to 80% of cases of melasma, the hyperpigmentation is in the central facial area, which includes the forehead, upper lip and nose. There are cases wherein the area of the cheeks is affected and in a smaller group of people, the jawline and chin are affected.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Although melasma is a common disorder, management of the condition can still be difficult due to the recurrence rates and limited knowledge of disease progression. However, the treatment of melasma can be grouped into topical, oral and procedural therapies. These will be discussed below.
1. Avoiding Triggers
The best treatment for melasma is combining topical treatments while also avoiding triggers, such as sun or estrogen exposure. Because the sun is the most common trigger, avoiding sun exposure can do a lot in preventing melasma. Avoiding triggers can already have a big impact and can prevent a person from spending too much on expensive medications and treatments. Avoiding triggers also has a big effect on reducing recurrence rates.
People with or at high risk for developing melasma should avoid using too many cosmetics, especially if your skin is sensitive. Vigorous rubbing of cosmetic creams and other agents on hyperpigmented skin may worsen the condition.
Other than avoiding the sun, skin protection from sunburn is also important. The use of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 50 or higher) can also prevent the development of melasma. When it is unavoidable to go out, wearing protection, such as hats or bringing an umbrella, can also help.
2. Topical Therapy
The first therapy option for melasma is topical therapy. Topical therapy includes a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin and corticosteroids (commonly the corticosteroid fluocinolone acetonide is used). When a person has hypersensitivity to triple combinations or when they are unavailable, dual ingredients or single topical agents are given. The triple combination topical therapy is currently the treatment that is most effective and favorable. Topical bleaching creams can also be helpful, but results are not guaranteed and sometimes effects take too long and are minimal.
3. Oral Therapy
Usual oral therapies include tranexamic acid, glutathione and polypodium leucotomos. These oral therapies can help reduce symptoms. However, in terms of effectiveness, oral therapy shows various results in the resolution of melasma, thus they are usually used if topical therapy is unavailable or cannot be given. Although oral therapies are not the first option or standard of care for melasma at present, various studies show that they have promising results.
4. Procedural Therapy
Usual procedures to treat melasma include chemical peels, micro-needling, radiofrequency and lasers. Effectivity of procedures to treat melasma is mixed and can vary from person to person. In some cases, chemical peels and lasers can yield faster results compared to topical medications. However, there is no guarantee of the resolution from these treatments. Furthermore, these procedures may have adverse effects, such as skin damage, further hyperpigmentation due to inflammation and scarring. Lasers have also been found to be associated with increased recurrence rates. This is why these are usually used as adjuncts or second line therapies if other treatments are unavailable or have failed.
This condition is managed using one or more therapies. A combination of any of these treatments usually provides better results than using one type of treatment only. In some cases, it can even resolve on its own, especially if triggers are avoided.
Although melasma may not be life-threatening, its impact on appearance can be significant. Even if the primary reason for the treatment is aesthetic, its effect on a person’s confidence and self-esteem is irreplaceable.