Skin Problems Associated with Thyroid Disease


Over activity and under activity of the thyroid gland may result in alterations of the skin, hair, or the nails. This may be as a result of the abnormal level of thyroid hormone, or a consequence of another underlying condition.


Thyrotoxicosis (Overactive Thyroid Gland)

Excess thyroid hormone (thyroxine) may be due to:

  • Grave’s Disease
    • Thought to be caused by auto antibodies, the mistaken immune T-cells, which cause Grave’s Disease.
      • The result of this is thickened and inelastic skin, filled with excessive hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulphate.
    • This disease can also be associated with Vitiligo.
    • Pretibial Myxedema – this condition will affect 5% of patients with Grave’s Disease. Appearing before, during, or after the thyrotoxic state.
      • Presents a lumpy appearance over the shins.
      • Skin may be discolored pink or purple, hair follicles are prominent with a warty appearance.
  • Thyroid nodule(s)
  • Excessive intake of thyroxine medication

Thyrotoxicosis will cause an increased metabolic rate. This can result in:

  • Smooth, moist, warm skin
  • Flushing of the face and hands
  • Overgrown nails which may lift off of the nail bed (Onycholysis)
  • Fine, soft, thinning scalp hair
  • Generalized itching
  • Urticaria (or hiving)
  • Increased skin pigmentation


Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid Gland)

Can possibly be related to auto-immune diseases, such as:

  • Pretibial Myxedema
  • Idiopathic Hypothyroidism
    • A condition of unknown cause in which the thyroid undergoes a destructive and scarring process.
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
    • An inflammatory condition causing destruction and scarring on the thyroid.


Hypothyroidism can result in:

  • Cold, pale, and dry skin
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Carotenaemia – a yellowish hue to the skin
  • Slow growing, ridged, and brittle nails
  • Dry skin – more prone to develop various form(s) of dermatitis