Vitamin deficiency may not be the first thing that comes to mind if you develop a skin condition, but many vitamin deficiencies cause skin problems. Because vitamins play such an important role in so many health areas, including tissue maintenance, vitamin deficiencies often manifest themselves in acne-like rashes, cracking or discolored skin or skin hemorrhages that resemble bruising. Skin disorders can be a good indicator of overall health, including vitamin deficiencies. Many deficiencies cause similar skin symptoms; see your medical practitioner for advice on which vitamins to supplement.
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Deficiency of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, causes dry, scaly skin, acne and psoriasis. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause much more serious eye problems. The conjunctiva and cornea of the eye become dry, which leads to thickening of the tissues. The cornea becomes hazy, decreasing vision and erosions can damage the cornea to the point where blindness occurs without corneal transplant.
Vitamins B2, B3 and Folic Acid
A B-2 deficiency causes cracks around the corners of the mouth and on the lips and create tongue burning and soreness. B-2 deficiency can also cause a scaly, greasy rash. People deficient in vitamin B-3, also known as niacin, can develop pellagra, a disease not generally seen in the United States. People with pellagra experience dry, scaly, cracked skin, canker sores and a burning mouth with a bright red, swollen tongue. Folic acid, another B-complex vitamin, can also cause inflammation of the tongue called glossitis and mouth ulcers.
Vitamins B6 and B12
Vitamin B-6 deficiency causes a number of skin manifestations. Vitamin B-6 is found in many foods; deficiency often occurs in alcoholism and nutrient malabsorption disorders. Certain medications can also cause deficiency. Skin becomes inflamed and a scaly, dry, greasy rash develops. People with vitamin B-6 deficiency may have a swollen, red tongue or painful cracks in the corner of the mouth. B-12 deficiency causes skin disorders such as hyperpigmentation, particularly on the hands and feet. In an article published in “Neurology India” 2005, lead author S. Aaron of Christian Medical College reported that 41 percent of people with vitamin B1-2 deficiency had skin or mucosal changes.
Sailors out at sea for long periods often developed scurvy, a vitamin-C deficiency. It normally takes around three months of very low or no vitamin C intake to develop scurvy, DermNet NZ reports. Skin manifestations of scurvy include hemorrhagic papules, reddish bruise-like spots that develop around hair follicles. The hairs take on a corkscrew appearance. The reddish spots may blend together to form large purpura or bruises.