Physical Wellness

Interesting fact: Ophthalmologists and dermatologists are among the first line of specialist doctors who identify early signs of underlying hypertension among patients. This is often much before you even know you need to visit a cardiologist.

Given that approximately 1 in 4 Indians (about 25% of the adult population) suffer from high blood pressure, we caught up with Dr Smriti Naswa, Consultant Dermatologist, Fortis Mumbai. She helps us identify early signs that show up on your skin if you have underlying hypertension.

Why Hypertension Causes Skin Changes

Let’s understand the heart-skin connection by breaking down the action-reaction in your body.

Hypertension is a condition that mainly affects your heart. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs because there is a buildup of cholesterol plaque in the arterial walls of your heart.

The plaque deposits lead to a narrowing of the cavity through which your blood circulates.

As your blood carries oxygen through your body, without proper flow and circulation, your body isn’t able to absorb the nutrients it needs to keep our skin and hair healthy. This is why your skin starts aging prematurely and isn’t able to repair the wear and tear as efficiently.

As a result, a host of skin conditions start surfacing on the skin very early on, serving as early indicators or signs of hypertension.

5 Skin Signs Of Hypertension, According To Dermatologist Dr Naswa

The largest organ in the human body, our skin acts as a mirror reflecting the health of our internal mind and body. It often shows symptoms of internal organ diseases much earlier than laboratory tests can detect, and this includes high blood pressure and hypertension.

Here are five signs you should look out for that may indicate you have hypertension:

  1. Hypertension Can Cause Wrinkles & Enlarged Pores: Hypertension not only affects oxygen circulation but also hampers toxin elimination, leading to premature signs of ageing like wrinkles, crow’s feet, and fine lines. Additionally, enlarged pores may become more prominent, affecting skin texture.
  2. Diffused Hair Loss Due To Hypertension: The lack of nutrients and lowered blood flow to hair follicles causes shedding of hair or diffused hair loss. This is when you experience thinning all over the scalp. Your hair follicles get weaker over time, and hypertension, which is a sign of stress and hormonal imbalances, causes hair fall, too.
  3. Dry Skin Due To Hypertension: Often linked to lifestyle-induced hypertension like renovascular hypertension where your kidney function gets impaired. Swelling of feet may accompany dry, itchy skin in such cases.
  4. Psoriasis Caused By Hypertension: This inflammatory skin condition is part of a metabolic syndrome. The chronic inflammation causes stress on the heart. Vice versa, if you have hypertension, you are more likely to have chronic skin inflammation. Both conditions need to be kept in check to prevent flaring up the other.
  5. Xanthelasma Palpebrum Caused By Hypertension: Yellow-colored cholesterol plaque is common in high BP patients and is associated with high cholesterol levels in blood (also called dyslipidemia). They surface as thick, yellow cholesterol spots on the eyelids, too.

5 Lifestyle & Wellness Tips To Manage Hypertension

Focusing on your diet, gut health, stress management, and overall wellness can help you manage hypertension. It can go as far as eliminating the need for medication if you continue to be mindful and under the care of a specialist.

Let’s look at the small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference and help you manage hypertension:

  • Diet For Hypertension
  • With high blood pressure, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and process toxins gets impaired. So, you need to eat a balanced diet that isn’t highly caloric.

    • Follow a diet that is high in nutrition, and low in sodium, saturated fats, and processed food.
    • Eat a rainbow of colours like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Steer clear of anything packaged.
    • Exercise portion control because weight maintenance is very important for people with high blood pressure. Being overweight will cause severe strain on your already overworked heart.
    • Incorporate probiotics and fibre-rich foods into your diet to support gut health, which plays a role in overall well-being, digestion, and blood pressure regulation.

    A woman with high blood pressure, kidney disease, and chronic dry skin found relief from severe itching by switching to a fibre-rich diet and eliminating processed foods, gluten, and dairy. Within 15 days, 60% of her itching disappeared using only moisturizer, aloe vera, and coconut oil. 10 days later, her itching reduced by 80%, and her hypertension also improved due to dietary changes,shares Dr Naswa.

  • Exercise For Hypertension
  • Cardio workouts, as the name suggests, are really good for your cardiac health. They will also help you maintain a healthy weight and release underlying stress often associated with high blood pressure and hypertension.

    • Yoga is a great cardiovascular workout that will help you balance your mind, body, and soul, while also improving your flexibility and agility. However, you must avoid inverted poses like headstands, wheelbarrow variations, etc. Ideally, workout under the guidance of a yoga guru who can tailor your routine to manage hypertension.
    • Walking for at least 30 minutes at a moderately brisk pace is a great way to improve blood circulation and oxygenation through your body. For added benefit, try and do it outdoors in the sun so you get some vitamin D.
    • Swimming is an excellent workout for people with hypertension. It improves your cardiovascular health, is easy on the joints and bones, and the rhythmic breathing lowers stress levels significantly.

  • Skin Management For Hypertension
  • Excessive dryness, itching, and flushed skin that appear red and inflamed are common among people who have hypertension and high blood pressure. You need to build a skincare routine that is non-irritating and deeply hydrating.

    • Use The Blue Pond Thalassa After-Bath Body Oil to deeply moisturize dry skin with the goodness of essential oils and botanicals. It is organic and paraben-free. The blend has anti-inflammatory safflower oil, anti-ageing rosemary oil and jasmine oil, and rich, fatty almond oil for deep hydration.
    • Apply the Thalassa Hands & Feet Gel every night before bedtime to treat cracked heels, callous hands, and ashy skin. It is based on beeswax which is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and acts like a germicide, preventing infections caused by skin cracks due to high blood pressure.
    • To support skin repair, use the Trepho Morning Ritual Facial Oil on a clean face every day. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and good fats, making it a potent blend to boost collagen if hypertension is causing your skin to age prematurely.

  • Stress Management For Hypertension 
  • A significant contributor to high blood pressure, managing stress levels is extremely important for people suffering from hypertension. Consider making wellness rituals that focus on calming your mind and feeding your soul. 

    • Meditate and practice deep diaphragmatic breathing to calm your anxious thoughts and slow down your overactive mind. Breathing deeply also helps improve the oxygenation in your blood, alleviating hypertension symptoms.
    • Stick to a sleep-wake schedule, ensuring you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Also, try and get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. This will help your body repair the wear and tear it is enduring more effectively.
    • Indulge in regular massage sessions with the Epione De-Stress & Pain Relief Oil to promote physical relaxation and reduce stress in the body. Massages help with lymphatic drainage, improve blood circulation, and relieve knots and blockages that are damaging to your body.

  • Eliminate Toxins
    Hypertension impairs the body's ability to remove toxins because it affects our kidney function. Supplementally eliminating toxins from your body can help improve overall health and wellbeing.

    • Avoid alcohol to limit the strain it puts on your kidneys. Even when you indulge, practice moderation and ensure you’re not drinking more than 90ml in one sitting. 
    • Cut caffeine and caffeine-related drinks like green tea, matcha, diet soda, energy drinks, and such. All of these beverages cause a spike in your blood pressure and may cause increased restlessness, anxiety, anger, and other hypertension-related mood swings. 
    • Kick the butt because smoking directly affects cardiovascular health, raising blood pressure, and damaging blood vessels. It significantly increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

    In conclusion, managing hypertension involves a multifaceted approach. Incorporating simple skincare habits, such as moisturizing regularly and avoiding harsh chemicals, can alleviate skin issues associated with hypertension. Additionally, adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, along with regular exercise and stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga, can significantly contribute to better blood pressure control. By prioritizing holistic wellness practices, you can take proactive steps to manage hypertension and enjoy a healthier life.