Vitamin C affects multiple areas of your body, including your skin. If you have a deficiency in this vitamin, your skin may become scaly, rough or dry. Should the deficiency be left untreated, you may develop scurvy, and one of the first signs of this condition is skin discolorations in the form of bruise-like spots. Seek medical attention if you notice these discolorations or believe you have a vitamin C deficiency.
Signs of Scurvy on the Skin
Typically, you will be deficient in vitamin C for at least three months before the symptoms of scurvy begin to develop. The skin discolorations this condition causes are known as perifollicular hyperkeratotic papules, and they most often appear on your shins. They will form around your hair follicles, have a red or blue color and will have a similar appearance to bruises. If these papules join together, they may create larger areas of discolorations.
Risks and Other Symptoms of a Deficiency
While it is fairly common for someone to be mildly deficient in vitamin C, the severe deficiency that would lead to scurvy and its skin discolorations is rare in the developed world. But if you smoke, are an alcoholic, eat a restrictive or nutritionally deficient diet or have a bowel disease, you are at a greater risk for developing a vitamin C deficiency. Other signs of this deficiency include scaly skin, dry hair, anemia, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, a poor immune system and skin that is both more easily bruised and takes longer to heal.
You can prevent scurvy and vitamin C deficiency by eating a balanced diet that includes a range of foods rich in the vitamin, particularly vegetables and fruit. Because this vitamin is water-soluble, your body does not store the excess, so there is little chance of overdosing. You should aim to get at least 75 milligrams of vitamin C a day if you are female and 90 milligrams if you are male. Eat foods like watermelon, berries, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and turnip greens to meet your RDA for vitamin C and keep your skin at its healthiest.
Treatment and Additional Considerations
Should you develop scurvy or even a mild vitamin C deficiency, your treatment will typically be oral vitamin C supplements. The dosage will vary according to the severity of your condition, and your doctor will determine how much vitamin C you should take, as well as for how long. Unless your deficiency has lead to tooth loss, the symptoms that scurvy produces, such as skin discolorations, will typically go away after you begin treatment. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your vitamin C intake, and ask how you can avoid developing a deficiency and its accompanying skin discolorations.
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