Diseases That Cause Skin Discoloration & Weight Loss

Skin discoloration can be caused by environmental exposure, congenital factors and certain medical conditions, according to the MedlinePlus website. In some cases, skin discoloration and weight loss are symptoms of a common condition or disease. In other cases, skin discoloration and weight loss may be caused by two separate conditions. Sudden unexplained weight loss, especially in the presence of skin discoloration, may suggest a serious underlying health problem.

Feet on a scale (Image: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown origin that can cause skin discoloration and weight loss. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, sarcoidosis is characterized by the development and proliferation of small clumps of inflammatory cells in different parts of a person's body, including his lungs, lymph nodes, eyes and skin. Although there is no known cause of sarcoidosis, many physicians believe that the condition is caused by an abnormal immune response triggered by something inhaled from the air. The cause of sarcoidosis may vary from person to person. Common signs and symptoms associated with sarcoidosis include weight loss, a red rash, darker or lighter patches of skin, fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, a persistent dry cough, wheezing, chest pain, blurred vision, eye pain and sensitivity to light.

Wilson's Disease

Wilson's disease is a genetic disorder that causes skin discoloration and weight loss. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, states that Wilson's disease is a condition in which the body is unable to excrete extra copper. A small amount of copper, which is obtained from food, is important for health, although excessive amounts of copper can be poisonous. A person with Wilson's disease accumulates copper in her liver, brain, eyes and other organs. If left unchecked, long-term elevation of copper levels can cause life-threatening organ damage, according to the NIDDK. Common signs and symptoms associated with Wilson's disease include jaundice or a yellowing of the skin, weight loss, fatigue, the tendency to bruise easily, liver or spleen swelling, fluid accumulation in the legs or abdomen, difficulty speaking or coordinating movement and muscle stiffness.

Chronic Liver Disease

Chronic liver disease is a condition that causes skin discoloration and weight loss. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, chronic liver disease is characterized by the gradual degeneration of liver tissue over time. There are two principle types of chronic liver disease: cirrhosis of the liver and fibrosis of the liver. Cirrhosis and fibrosis of the liver involve the replacing of normal, healthy liver tissue with scar tissue, which causes decreased blood flow through the liver. As more scar tissue accumulates in the liver over time, the liver loses its ability to process nutrients, hormones, drugs and poisons. Common signs and symptoms associated with chronic liver disease include jaundice or a yellowing of the skin, weight loss, vomiting blood, gallstones, itching, kidney failure, muscle loss, loss of appetite, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and abnormal nerve function.

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