Five things your skin can tell you

LOVE THE SKIN YOU'RE IN: And drink more water ...
LOVE THE SKIN YOU'RE IN: And drink more water ...

Ahh, the epidermis. What a strange, clever little machine it is. As you know, the epidermis, or the outer layer of our skin, is the largest organ of the human body.

And while it looks like it doesn't do much, it's actually a hard-working tool that can equip us with useful information about our health and wellbeing. Learn to read your skin like a book and you'll be able to quickly identify what you need to improve on in your day-to-day life, whether it's drinking less alcohol, watching your stress levels or heading to the doctor for a more thorough check-up. Five things common issues below - recognise any?

1. You're Dehydrated

This test is an age-old one: simply pinch your skin between two fingers (the back of your hand is the perfect place to test) and watch how it bounces back when you release. If it snaps back into place instantly, you're good to go. But if it slides slowly back in place, it means your body is lacking fluids - namely, water.

You know the deal: drink up! Eight glasses a day is a a good rule to live by.

2. You're Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Dull, grey skin is a simple, clear sign that your alcohol intake is a little too high. Alcohol depletes your skin's vital nutrients and dehydrates it, both of which serve to give off a muted appearance. That's not all: excessive drinking can also dilate blood vessels, which leads to the appearance of spidery veins, and can cause rosacea flare-ups. Simple remedy? Cut back to the recommended two drinks maximum, per day.

3. You're Stressed

Look in the mirror. Do you see more crow's feet, more forehead lines and more sallow skin than ever? Your body could be telling you you're too stressed. The body reacts to tension by literally tensing the muscles. Blood becomes thicker, which means circulation becomes poor, and wrinkles and red circulation marks become the norm. The obvious answer is to relax a little, but if that's easier said than done, stock up on vitamins A,C and E. They're kind to your skin and will help boost circulation and your body's detoxifying mechanisms.

4. You Could Have PCOS

This is a more serious one. Random (but persistent) skin breakouts can be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is diagnosed when the ovaries produce an unbalanced level of sex hormones, and can also be symptomised by excessive facial hair, sporadic or excessively long periods and unexplained weight gain.

See your GP if you're concerned about PCOS - but remember that breakouts can simply be the result of a poor diet, lifestyle choices or your environment, so don't jump to conclusions!

5. You've Got Too Much Sodium in Your System

Got bags under your eyes? Cut back on the salt! As we know, salt causes us to retain water. Fluid retention is most easily spotted under the eyes, since the skin is so paper thin there - it's a simple way to spot that you might be overdoing it with the white stuff. Excessive sodium intake can also lead to high blood pressure, so see your doctor if you have concerns.