Arrrrrrrr…. Scurvy happens not only in pirates

Remember how in grade school we learned that pirates — and legitimate sailors as well — would get a disease called scurvy on long trips in the open seas? This was because they were limited to foods that had to keep for a long time and did not have access to foods with vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits, veggies…). So, as a result, they got scurvy.

Well, these days, we don’t really think about pirates when we think about nutritional deficiencies. (At least, I don’t over here in Boston.) However, there are groups of individuals who are predisposed to nutritional deficiencies, and in particular, to scurvy.

These individuals include young kids, people with limited diets, alcoholics, people without access to diverse diets or food, and folks who have diseases of the gut that can prevent them from absorbing Vitamin C (e.g. malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease).

So what did the pirates or sailors get when they got scurvy? Well, not that I’ve met any of them, but signs of scurvy include bleeding (around hairs, in the gums, or just into the skin — causing bruises), hairs shaped like corkscrews(!), swollen gums, weakness, joint pains, eye problems, and problems with the blood cells, just to name a few.

So, remember to include enough Vitamin C in your diet (most of us do without thinking about it)!

Does pregnancy affect your skin?

You bet it does. Many changes happen to your body when you’re pregnant. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing change. Makes sense that pregnancy affects your skin as well.

So how does pregnancy affect your skin?

Here are some things that can happen:

Hyperpigmentation – You may notice areas of your skin becoming darker than your normal skin tone

Melasma – Melasma is also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” It often presents as blotchy dark areas of the face, most commonly over the cheeks.

Hair loss or hair growth – Yes, both hair loss or hair growth (hirsutism) can occur.  Hair loss can be temporary, but may also be permanent in that the hair does nt grow back.  Hair growth often affects individuals with a personal or family history of increased hair growth.

Changes in the nails – Changes can include brittleness, appearance of lines in the nail, lifting of the nail, or accumulation of material under the nail

Changes to the nipples – The nipples may become bumpy, reflecting enlargement of the glands

Stretch marks – Pregnancy is accompanied by weight gain and stretching of the skin. Stretch marks (“striae”) may be skin colored, pinkish or purplish.

Red spots – These may represent collections of vessels called spider angiomas or, some people get redness of the palms (“palmar erythema”). Veins can become enlarged and lumpy as well (“varicose veins”).

Changes in the mouth – Gums may become enlarged or bumpy.

Leg swelling – You can retain fluid and the feet, ankles and legs may be affected.

Acne – Acne can get worse or better!  It’s hard to predict whose acne improves, and whose goes downhill.