Cutaneous manifestations of endocrine disorders: a guide for dermatologists

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(5):315-31. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200304050-00003.


Dermatologists may commonly see skin lesions that reflect an underlying endocrine disorder. Identifying the endocrinopathy is very important, so that patients can receive corrective rather than symptomatic treatment. Skin diseases with underlying endocrine pathology include: thyrotoxicosis; hypothyroidism; Cushing syndrome; Addison disease; acromegaly; hyperandrogenism; hypopituitarism; primary hyperparathyroidism; hypoparathyroidism; pseudohypoparathyroidism and manifestations of diabetes mellitus. Thyrotoxicosis may lead to multiple cutaneous manifestations, including hair loss, pretibial myxedema, onycholysis and acropachy. In patients with hypothyroidism, there is hair loss, the skin is cold and pale, with myxedematous changes, mainly in the hands and in the periorbital region. The striking features of Cushing syndrome are centripetal obesity, moon facies, buffalo hump, supraclavicular fat pads, and abdominal striae. In Addison disease, the skin is hyperpigmented, mostly on the face, neck and back of the hands. Virtually all patients with acromegaly have acral and soft tissue overgrowth, with characteristic findings, like macrognathia and enlarged hands and feet. The skin is thickened, and facial features are coarser. Conditions leading to hyperandrogenism in females present as acne, hirsutism and signs of virilization (temporal balding, clitoromegaly).A prominent feature of hypopituitarism is a pallor of the skin with a yellowish tinge. The skin is also thinner, resulting in fine wrinkling around the eyes and mouth, making the patient look older. Primary hyperparathyroidism is rarely associated with pruritus and chronic urticaria. In hypoparathyroidism, the skin is dry, scaly and puffy. Nails become brittle and hair is coarse and sparse. Pseudohypoparathyroidism may have a special somatic phenotype known as Albright osteodystrophy. This consists of short stature, short neck, brachydactyly and subcutaneous calcifications. Some of the cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus include necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, diabetic dermopathy, scleredema adultorum and acanthosis nigricans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly / complications
  • Addison Disease / complications
  • Cushing Syndrome / complications
  • Dermatology
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Endocrine System Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperpigmentation / diagnosis
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology
  • Hyperpigmentation / therapy
  • Hypopituitarism / complications
  • Hypothyroidism / complications
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*
  • Thyrotoxicosis / complications