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If You Notice This on Your Body, Have Your Liver Checked

The first signals can be subtle.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The liver is one of the body's most critical organs, responsible for metabolizing everything we consume and detoxifying the blood when we encounter potentially harmful substances. Surprisingly, when this essential organ is damaged, the first signals can be subtle. If you notice any of these symptoms on your body, they could be a sign of liver damage; it's a good idea to call your healthcare provider and request that your liver function be tested. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Yellow Eyes or Skin

man itchy eyes seasonal allergies

Jaundice—a yellowing of the eyes or skin—is another common sign of liver damage. It happens when the liver can't optimally filter bilirubin, a natural chemical produced by red blood cells, from the blood. This can cause eyes and skin to take on a yellowish tone. "Jaundice is usually the first sign, and sometimes the only sign, of liver disease," says Johns Hopkins Medicine


Swelling in These Areas


If your ankles, legs, or abdomen are persistently swollen, you could be exhibiting the most common symptom of a damaged liver. Swelling is experienced by about 50% of people with cirrhosis, the most severe form of liver disease. It happens when the liver no longer is able to produce albumin, a protein that prevents fluid from leaking out of the blood vessels and into tissue. That trapped fluid causes areas of the body to swell, which can be uncomfortable.


Itchy Skin

Woman removing adhesive plaster from the wound after blood test injection

If the liver function has been impaired for a while, people may develop itchy skin over a wide range of their body. This may happen because liver damage can cause bile salts to build up under the skin, histamine levels in the body to increase, or serotonin levels to decrease (resulting in the increased perception of itching). 




People with liver damage may develop a reddish-purple rash consisting of tiny dots or larger splotches. It's caused by bleeding from small blood vessels in the skin.



woman touches her bruised knee

If you're bruising more easily or more extensively than normal, it could be a sign of liver dysfunction. The cause: Bleeding from blood vessels in the skin that can also cause rashes to form. 


Small Fat Deposits In These Areas


A damaged liver can cause small yellow bumps of fat to be deposited in the skin or eyelids. This happens because a damaged liver causes high levels of blood cholesterol, which results in these small fatty deposits. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael