Obesity and related skin conditions

Obesity is the leading disease in the western and asian countries .The number is increasing day by day. Obesity is considered as “worldwide pandemic”. The list of diseases related to obesity are increasing, some of them are diabetes, hypertension, stroke, delayed wound healing, skin issues, impotence, stroke etc.

Here in this article we are dealing with skin related infections in obese individuals.

How does obesity cause skin problems?

Obesity is a condition of excess adipose(Fat) tissue and is the result of changes in lifestyle, excessive consumption of energy-dense foods with poor nutritional value, physical inactivity. However there are other related disturbances caused by obesity. Metabolic disturbances are  equally important and can be interlinked with Diabetes (Insulin Related) which is responsible as an exacerbating factors for dermatitis.

Below we can see the stages, skin getting affected in various forms:

  • Disproportional production of oil(sebum) from the skin cells: As we know its the oily substance that keeps the skin moisturized and avoid dryness. In obesity, the sebum channels are blocked and get infected leading to formation of Acne. Acne is also caused due to other hormonal factors like rise in androgens(Male hormones), growth hormones, insulin
  • Alteration in properties of skin function:skin  barrier cells have  a set of critical defensive functions along with the function of holding body water in and keeping microbes and foreign molecules out. Alteration leads to infection formation
  • Imbalance in collagen production and structure: Adipose cells(Fat cells)     decreases the formation of collagen and leads to weakening and laxity of skin tissues
  • Delay in wound healing properties: Adiponectin(Cells seen in Adipose tissue) which is responsible for Increasing the vascularity and  wound healing is decreased in obesity and there is a delay in wound healing.

Commonly associated skin conditions seen in obesity and their management:

1)Acanthosis Nigricans and Skin tags: This is a common skin problem in obesity. Acanthosis nigricans appears as velvety, symmetrical dark patches. It is most commonly observed in the armpits, groin, back of the neck, elbows, knuckles, and face. This condition can be controlled with the help of decreasing the increased Insulin levels. Skin tags can be removed by a doctor.

2)Hyperandrogenism and hirsutism: This is caused by high levels of male hormones. Development of male sexual characters is seen like increase in facial hair. Acne may occur. Treatment of hyperandrogenism consists of controlling insulin levels, weight loss, oral contraceptive and antiandrogenic therapies.

3)Striae due to over extension: Striae are commonly seen on the skin due to stretching of skin and increased adipose tissue. Striae are seen more often in the areas like breasts, buttocks, abdomen and thigh regions. They appear as red marks turning violet, then finally becoming white depressed plaques. There are no treatment options.

4)Varicose veins: Appear as bulged veins and/or black itchy skin on the lower extremities. Treatment is with elastic stocking other life style intweventions, weight loss, reducing the standing time, elevation of the legs for few minutes and surgically by stripping and ligation.

Other skin related issues seen in Obesity:

  • lymphedema
  • psoriasis
  • insulin resistance syndrome
  • skin infections including fungal infections, mainly in the skin folds
  • plantar hyperkeratosis

-Dr.Surampally Bhavani Sagar




Respiratory problems include breathing difficulties such as asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, emphysema, heart disease and anxiety. One of the health condition leading to breathing difficulties is obesity or being overweight

Large Waist Size

Men and women with abdominal obesity are at risk of difficulty in breathing. The excess belly fat pushes the diaphragm and chest wall making it hard for lungs to fill with air leading to breathing difficulties

Normal range of waist circumference should be less than or equal to 80 cm for women and less than or equal to 90 cm for men of Indian origin.

Obesity & Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where in during night times while sleeping there is difficulty in breathing which lasts for few seconds at a time, multiple times. Many of the times it may go unnoticed as u mostly don’t wake up fully to notice it. One of the risk factors for shortness of breath is being obese or having abdominal fat.

A commons sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

symptoms :

  • excessive day time sleep
  • loud snoring
  • morning headache
  • nighttime sweating
  • difficulty in concentrating

Home remedies :

  • lose weight
  • exercise daily
  • quit smoking
  • sleep on your side instead on your back.


A healthy lifestyle and proper dietary plans may reduce the risk of developing breathing difficulties. Make efforts to reduce weight if you’re obese. A reasonable goal for weight loss is to try to lose 1 to 2 lbs. per week by reducing the number of calories that you eat and by increasing the number of calories that you burn through exercise. Make sure you consult your dietician before going on weight loss plan.

Obstructive sleep Apnoea can pose long term health consequences, like Hypertension, Headaches, heart failure, Depression and poor life satisfaction. Consult a doctor so that the problem can be looked in to, with appropriate tests which include sleep studies.






Obesity is usually caused by lifestyle habits and underlying medical conditions or risk factors leading to overweight.  

Medical causes of obesity can include:

Hypothyroidism- Condition associated with thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces too little thyroid hormone. This hormone regulates our metabolism. The decrease in levels of these hormones effects the metabolism, leading to weight gain.

Cushing’s syndrome- Condition wherein the adrenal glands secrete an excess amount of cortisol hormone, leading to a build-up of fat in certain sites such as the face, upper back, and abdomen.

Polycystic ovary disease:  This condition leads to increase in levels of androgen levels leading to males like characteristics such as body hair growth, irregular periods and weight gain.   

Depression- People with depression overeat or binge eating ultimately leading to obesity.

Pregnancy- During the pregnancy period women tend to attain weight significantly and most of them find it difficult to lose after the pregnancy. This could lead to obesity.

Other causes

Inactivity. Sedentary lifestyle or work which includes less physical activity will lead to accumulation of fat in the body due to excess intake or improper use of those calories leading to obesity.

Genetics. Some people are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Family lifestyle. Obesity runs in family, if one or either of your parents are obese then you are a risk of attaining the same. Family members share same lifestyle or eating habits leading to obesity

Unhealthy diet. A diet high in calories and frequent habit of eating the junk food or unprocessed food is one of the causes for increased levels of cholesterol, which is a risk factor for obesity.

Certain medications. Medications such as antidepressants, anti-seizure, and steroids intake will lead to weight gain.

Age. It affects every age group including young children. As you grow up hormonal changes and less active or sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of obesity.

Quitting smoking- quitting smoking can lead to a temporary gain of weight, but long-term quitting of smoking will benefit you from ill health.

Lack of sleep- improper sleeping habits may cause in imbalance of the appetite hormones which may lead to weight gain due to excess craving for food.

Though obesity may be caused by different conditions or risk factors, proper diet, and physical activity can prevent you from gaining weight and help u stay healthy.

Speak to a doctor on ekincare to get personalized advice!

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How diabetes impacts your ageing body?

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Will overweight children grow into obese adults?

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Did you know? *

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