Skin Conditions Frequently Found in Obese Patient Populations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that in the United States, “…thirty eight percent of adults, and that seventeen percent of children and teens are obese.” It is imperative that the term obesity be differentiated from overweight. Obesity refers to higher than normal body fat, whereas overweight is in reference to an individual weighing more than the standard for height and weight. Although both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what is considered healthy for his or her height, obesity has higher negative health-related consequences.


Health care professionals are challenged to manage increasingly complex health issues related to obesity, including complex skin conditions. The increase in stored fat associated with obesity can contribute to a variety of changes in skin physiology and is implicated in a range of dermatologic conditions.2 The skin’s ability to manage transepidermal water loss is altered in the obese population. With increased fat stores the transepidermal water loss is increased, resulting in dryness and delayed skin repair. Additionally, sebaceous channels are blocked, leading to an increase in oils and resulting in acne.2 The thick layers of subcutaneous fat in obese individuals may contribute to profuse sweating (hyperhidrosis) when overheated or with activities. Hyperhidrosis can set the stage for profuse skin damage. Moisture trapped in skin folds coupled with friction as body folds rub together … read more