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How dehydration causes skin deformities

One morning about two weeks ago I was doing my normal skin care routine when I noticed something unusual on my forehead. At first I thought it was a small bruise, but then after rubbing the spot it was clear it wasn't that at all. This was a dent, slightly larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser, right in the middle of my forehead, and it wasn't there the night before. 

And it felt clearly like a dent in the bone, when I ran my fingers over it, there was, what seemed, to be a hollowing part of my skull. 

I didn't take a photo of myself, but here are images of women who had something very similar to what I experienced. All images in this post are of other people, not myself:


Images of women who reported overnight dents in forehead similar to what I experienced. 


So I did the stupidest thing a person can do and I googled a medical issue. And of course the internet medical community's consensus was that a dent in the forehead is bone cancer. 

In the mornings I am on edge anyway, and this finding was the icing on the cake to make my hands and feet go numb, which usually means an panic attack is coming soon unless I do something to calm down. If I need to calm down what I do is drink water while counting down from 10, and the distraction is enough to disrupt the cascade of physical effects that lead to a panic attack.

After drinking water and waiting a few minutes, I went back to the mirror to finish my skin care routine and the dent looked better. Now I wasn't sure if it just looked smaller because I felt better or if it was actually smaller. I ran my fingers over the area and I could still feel a clear divot in the space but it looked a little better.

I was thinking about this issue for the next few hours and trying to figure out if this is a bone issue or a skin issue. A skin issue can clear up quickly, a bone issue does not. But this was confusing. The spot clearly felt like a dent in my head, when I ran my finger over the space I could feel my fingers sinking into a spot. When I tilted my head back and looked at the symmetry on both sides of my forehead I could clearly see something was off.

And I thought, surely skin isn't that thick that thinning of the skin would cause such an obvious divot in what appeared to be the bone?

Well, maybe it is. 

Perhaps I just woke up dehydrated and in an effort to calm down by drinking water I addressed the cause of the dent in my forehead. 

Throughout the rest of the day I drank an entire gallon of water and the dent actually started to disappear. In two days it was gone and left no trace it was ever there in the first place. Now when I run my fingers across the area it feels totally normal. And it looks totally normal. 

This temporary issue in my skin taught me two things:

1. NEVER google your symptoms

2. Skin has more water content than I was aware of


Its an obvious conclusion, water is necessary for healthy hydrated skin, but what isn't obvious is how much water actually thickens the skin. We are told that fat, collagen and hyaluronic acid plump the skin. But its obvious water keeps the skin full enough that without it, it can actually mimic a dent in bone. Perhaps people would save a lot of money on filler procedures if they just drank more water:

One of the hallmarks of aged skin is loss of hydration. As we age, our skin loses its ability to retain water, which causes thinning and dryness. However, dehydration from not drinking enough water in younger people can also have [temporary] physical side effects in the skin. 

The Long-term Effects of Dehydration

What I also realized was that this skin issue wasn't just the result of me not drinking water for a day or two, but probably not being properly hydrated for 1-2 months. I usually get a water delivery every week which is my physical reminder of how much water I should drink in a day, but the delivery has been, for the time being, only been once a month due to worldwide supply chain issues. So without this reminder I was probably drinking quite a bit less water than I should have. 

What I don't understand is why it would appear overnight, but if I had to wager a guess it is because we are our most dehydrated in the morning. Dehydration is at its worst in the morning because we go several hours without drinking water, and we spend all night breathing out water. So we lose water for 8 hours and don't replenish it. 

The good thing of all of this was that the issue was a simple fix, and not permanent.  And it was a clear message that ignoring health will have physical consequences that are slow to manifest. Our skin is an outer reflection of our interior health. And when we are dehydrated it will eventually show on our skin. 

The Power of the Simple Explanation

What I also learned was to think horses and not zebras. If something odd occurs, such as a dent in the skin, it is probably best to think of simple causes and solutions instead of extreme ones. If I am in a park in Los Angeles and I hear hooves, I should probably assume that they're that of a horse and not a zebra. Even though both horses and zebras have hooves and sound the same when galloping down a path. What I mean by this is that a dent in the forehead that appeared quickly is likely the result of dehydration, a common ailment most people experienced, and was likely for me to experience because I have not been drinking enough water, and not from a rare form of cancer. 

In my search for answers online, I quickly realized how insane it is to expect logic from internet message board users. I saw that people with the same issue posted online about their ailment in hope of an explanation and everyone's answers were a range of cancers, to infections, etc. No one said go to a professional, probably because the internet makes everyone believe they are a professional and the world needs their opinion.

And then I asked myself, why would I trust what a stranger, with no identity on the internet and no knowledge of me or my medical history, has to say about my health? I learned my lesson and closed the window. 

And the same can be applied to skin care. The right solutions are the simplest ones. Drink water, eat healthy and have a good and minimalist skin care routine. And to take what you read with a grain of salt. 

Sure, its absolutely possible that the multitude of complaints of skin dents or other issues are caused by something other than dehydration or another simple fix, but it isn't likely that a million people online suddenly got bone cancer or a flesh eating infection overnight. 

I have had so many women come to me with their hair on fire in desperate need of treatment because they had some mild skin issue, like a few acne scars, fine lines or pimples, they went online and got ridiculous advice from some message board, and/or went  to an aesthetician or dermatologist who gave them harsh treatments, and now their skin was ruined. The crazy vampire facials, the lasers, dermarolling, fillers,  Botox, etc. just end up doing more damage to the skin and turn a mild, fixable issue into permanent irreversible damage.

And the worst part is that not one of these "professionals" actually took the time to figure out the cause of the issue. They just rush to their "treatment".

I believe less is more, and that simple measures with patience have the best impact on our health. A rational skin care routine and a rational mind will elicit the best results.