When was the last time you took your clothes off, stood in front of a mirror and really had a close look at your reflection? If you can’t remember, the time is now.
According to the health experts, studying your naked reflection could lead tot he early detection of a health problem.
Got an unusual lump in your groin? It could be a hernia. This happens when part of the body pushes through a weakness in your muscle or the surrounding tissue and produces a visible lump on the outer extremities of your body.
Dr Anton Emmanuel, a consultant gastroenterologist at University College London Hospitals says you might only see the lump when you’re standing up because “gravity and abdominal pressure” make it protrude.
Hernias are most common in men and often result from heavy lifting. If serious, the problem could require an operation to push the protruding part back into place.
What about dark skin patches under your armpits? These could be an early sign of Type 2 diabetes according to Dr Nida Chammas of the BMI Clementine Churchill Hospital at Middlesex.
More commonly called ‘acanthosis nigricans’ the darkened, thickened patches of skin about the size of a hand span might be dry and have a rough, velvety feel to them. You might also find them itchy.
“They are linked to obesity, which in turn can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes when the body is unable to properly use the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and so the pancreas tries to produce more and more, Dr Chammas says.
Losing weight , reducing your carb intake and getting more exercise can help restore your original skin colour. A GP can also prescribe medication to reduce insulin levels, which can also help.
If you have dark skin around your ankles though, it might be the start of a leg ulcer. According to vascular surgeon at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Foundation Trust, Eddie Chaloner it occurs when veins in the leg become weak and lose their ability to send blood back towards the heart.
“Blood leaks from the veins, which have become weakened by a build-up of pressure in the leg,” Chaloner says. The leakage causes an inflammatory reaction that creates the discolouration and this then affects skin growth or repair, which could lead to an ulcer.
Do you have a bulging vein down the middle of your chest? It could be a sign of the inflammatory condition known as Mondor’s Disease. It’s a rare condition, and while it doesn’t cause breast cancer it might be a sign that there is a tumour in your breast.
What about veins in your neck? If they are sticking out it would be a sign of heart failure. If your heart cannot pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure it could cause your veins to bulge. The neck and leg are the most common places for this to occur.
Can’t remember where that bruise came from? If you have frequent and unexplained bruising you might want to speak to your doctor about liver disease. Bruising can also be a sign of the blood cancer leukaemia.
Finally, if you have swelling on one or both of your thighs it could be a symptom of testicular cancer.
“Testicular cancer can spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis which in turn affects the lymphatic system in the pelvis,” says professor Christopher Eden, a consultant urologist at the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford.