THE THYROID DETECTIVE SERIES - DRY SKIN Thyroid conditions come with multiple symptoms, which can vary from person to person.

If you have a thyroid condition, you may suffer from dry skin as a result.

This may seem like a fairly 'low grade' symptom, compared to many of the others that you are likely to experience as hypothyroidism continues, but the severity of dry skin can range from low to severe, causing those suffering with it to feel varying degrees of self-devaluation, emotional upset and levels of pain and discomfort that can be mildly irritating to extremely painful.


This is a closer look at the biology: the purpose and function of the organ and the tissues involved.

This will provide the framework for understanding the 'mind' aspect later.

The Anatomy of the different layers of Skin

The skin is made up of two layers, which are made up of multiple different sets of cells: the dermis layer, and the epidermis (or corium). After this a third layer, which is not officially 'skin', but is closely connected to the skin: the hypodermis (or subcutaneous superficial fascia). This sits below the dermis layer. This is our fat deposits and sits above the next layer, which would be muscle.

The Epidermis

The epidermis is the top layer of our body, it is the 'skin' that we see, touch and feel which is layered across our body. It is made up of cells called keratinocytes, which as they grow and mature migrate from the bottom layers of the epidermis to the top. As they do this they synthesise keratin, strengthen and thicken, providing ever more protection by the time they become the top layer of cells of the epidermis.

Keratin is a protein that has two main functions:

  1. To adhere the epidermis cells together - creating stability in one of the largest 'organs' of the body

  2. To create a protective layer on the external surface (top layer) of the skin - to protect the organism from the environment

Keratin is the main substance in the top layer of skin, and as its name suggests ('Kera' or 'keros' means "Horn"), this is the substance that 'cornifies' the epidermis (making it tougher) via the process of 'keratinisation'. This process happens in hair, nails, hooves, the scales and claws of reptiles and the feathers and beaks of birds.

The distinguishing feature of keratins is the presence of large amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine, which is required for the disulfide bridges that confer additional strength and rigidity by permanent, thermally stable crosslinking[X]

The epidermis is very thin, although it's thickness varies at different areas of the body: from 0.05mm at the eyelid, to 1.5mm thick on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. This alteration of thickness is specifically to enable the different 'functions' of that part of the body. Clearly, if the epidermis were 1.5mm thick at the eyelids, our ability to open and close our eyelids would be affected. This is biologies perfection of form and function! Even though the types of cells used in the epidermis are the same, they adapt in a particular organ or environment to reflect the functional need of that organ!

The Dermis

The dermis sits just under the epidermis, and is the foundation upon which the epidermis sits. It is made up of connective tissue, a dense network of collagen and elastin fibers, and through it the blood vessels, glands, nerves and hairs of the skin pass. This section of the skin is much thicker than the epidermis, and is 0.3mm to 4.0mm thick at different areas of the body.

The hypodermis layer is made up of mainly fatty connective tissue, It will vary on thickness greatly, depending upon the individual.

Other Skin Changes in Hypothyroidism

There are many changes that may be experienced, some are individualised symptoms, whilst others are recognised as 'conditions' in their own right.

Recently, Hypothyroid mum posted on some of the conditions, which include:

Alopecia Vitiligo Lupus

All of these may be related to thyroid issues and share the commonality of being autoimmune - meaning that they are recognised as being affected by the immune systems 'self-attack'. Some people consider autoimmune issues as being an indicator that the body is 'broken' and doing something wrong. Indeed the symptoms are devastating, and the immune system is working contrary to its preferred trajectory. But in terms of the mind-body-emotion connection, we will always look at what the body is doing and try to understand 'why'. Very often, there is an intelligence in the body working contrary to its usual process, and we will look for the positive intention and meaning in the function to understand what needs to be addressed in each individual case according to the symptoms.

Individual Skin symptoms of hypothyroidism may include one or more of the following:

Dry Skin Hair loss thinning skin cold, clammy skin Change of colour Bruising easily slow wound healing Brittle nails Dry scalp (dandruff) Absence of sweating

Today, we are just focusing on 'Dry Skin'.

As in the practice and application of a mind-body-emotion approach, we will always take each individual symptom and address it specifically.

In this way we can tailor the area of study and uncover the mind-body link in a more detailed and specific way.

Skin Function

In Understanding the mind-body connection between our specific symptoms, we need to look at the specific 'function' of that organ, or part of the organ. Much like a detective we need to focus our attention on the small details in order to decipher the messages that the body is providing for our attention.

Skin serves many important functions:

(1) It is a barrier that stops harmful substances from entering the body & repairs itself fairly quickly if damaged

(2) It prevents desiccation, or 'drying out' of not only the skin, but more importantly of the whole living organism (think about when a worm dries in the sun! ew...)

(3) Regulation of body tem