All signs point to end of March


MO,15/3/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The dates on which Parliament will be dissolved are now almost certain. Dissolution will happen on March 28, 29 or 30, looking at the way the cards are falling. The guessing game is as good as over. The report on the new electoral boundaries is expected to be given to all Members of Parliament by next week, and may be tabled as early as Monday. A simple majority of 111 votes – with the number of lawmakers currently at 220 – is needed to have the proposal passed.

Of the 222 MPs, Jelebu MP Datuk Zainudin Ismail and Paya Besar MP Datuk Abdul Manan Ismail have passed away. Zainudin died in December while Abdul Manan died last month. The fact that the motion need not go through the Dewan Negara – which shortens the time to enforce the redelineation – is also another reason why political pundits are targeting the end of March. The redelineation of parliamentary and state constituencies will be enforced immediately once it receives royal assent and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s signature.

To give a clear picture – and a hint of when the polls are likely to take place – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi spoke on the sequence of events leading up to the dissolution. He informed top editors on Tuesday that once lawmakers have concluded debate on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address, ministers would take their turns to wind up. “After this, Bills will be tabled. Then, we will table the motion on the proposed redelineation. After it has been debated and passed, it will be gazetted upon receiving royal assent,” he said.

What follows this would be the dissolution of Parliament. The Election Commission will then set the dates for nomination and polling, explained Dr Ahmad Zahid. Sources say that Standing Order 15 (1), which states that government business should have precedence over other matters, can be used to expedite the process. “The Government can decide to cut short the ministerial winding-up to only two days instead of the scheduled four days,” said a source.

“There is also the Supplementary Supply Bill that needs to be tabled and debated next week. “The Government can decide to just table the motion on the redelineation first and then set aside the following week for debates.” The passing of the redelineation will clear the way for the dissolution, with the expected dates to be between March 28 and 30. Political observers are also looking at end March for Parliament to be dissolved, with April 7 as the date for Barisan Nasional to unveil its manifesto as a “giveaway”.

While a manifesto can be launched anytime, it has been a practice by Barisan to do so after the dissolution. During GE13 in 2013, Barisan launched its election pledges on April 6 – three days after the Dewan Rakyat was dissolved. Pakatan Harapan launched its manifesto on March 8 while PAS will present its own on Sunday. Political analyst Prof Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek of Universiti Malaysia Kelantan said the end of March would be the right time to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat since the Election Commission needs 30 days to hold an election.

“If it is the end of March, by the time polling takes place it will be early May. Whatever it is, the general election needs to be over by mid-May – before Muslims begin their fasting in the month of Ramadan,” he said.


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9 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium

You turn your nose up at tofu

If you’re a meat lover, tofu probably never comes close to your mouth—but it might be time to rethink that. Not only is this Asian staple packed with protein, it contains more than 40 percent of your daily value of calcium. If you don’t (or can’t) eat a lot of dairy (say, if you’re lactose intolerant), tofu is a great way to up your calcium intake. Here are some more foods that are rich in calcium (and also happen to be natural fat burners).

The post 9 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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Signs Your Face Is Aging Faster Than You Are

You’ve got sun spots

closeup of a woman cheek with liver spot causes by the large exposition sun cunaplus/ShutterstockSkin aging is going to happen—but lifestyle and environmental factors can make you appear older than you are. For example, you know the sun can harm your skin, but this damage can actually age your skin’s appearance with unsightly brown patches. “As we enter our 30s, we begin to see the cumulative impact of sun damage, including sun spots,” says dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. “Much of the damage that causes sun spots is UV-induced, but hormones can fuel spots and splotches too.” She advises addressing the dark spots with a serum containing botanical brighteners, like licorice, soy, arbutin, and niacinamide; or talk to your dermatologist about the prescription bleaching cream hydroquinone. Here are more weird ways the sun affects your body.

Your skin is super dry

Close up of face of girl touching her chin with fingersilaria burlini/ShutterstockWhen you’re a teen you worry about oily skin, but as your skin ages, you may encounter the opposite problem. “Gaps in the skin’s protective top layer can let out precious moisture molecules and allow in irritants,” Dr. Bowe says. The sun, smoking, and even stress can contribute to this breakdown, she says. “To keep your skin healthy and hydrated, look for moisturizing ingredients like omegas, coconut oil, ceramides, and dimethicone,” Dr. Bowe says. “A once-a-week mask—either a humectant-laden sheet or a rich overnight cream mask—can keep skin hydrated and sated, allowing anti-aging actives to perform better.” Check out more helpful tips to fight dry skin.

You’ve noticed crow’s feet

eye bags close up on woman facesruilk/ShutterstockThese fine lines around your eyes may be the first sign that your skin is starting to age early. (Make sure you’re avoiding these everyday habits that cause wrinkles.) “The dermis is the layer that is responsible for keeping our skin tight, firm, and free of fine lines,” Dr. Bowe says. “As we age, cell renewal begins to slow, the skin’s outermost stratum corneum thickens, and elastin fibers in the dermis fall into disarray.” Boost your collagen, which fills in these lines and gives skin more plumpness, with products containing ingredients like peptides, growth factors, and stem cells, she says.

You have brown spots that aren’t from the sun

Liver spot on the skin of an old personRoblan/ShutterstockWarning, cell phone addicts: Your phone is aging your skin. You may think you’re protecting against sun damage, but the infrared and high energy visible light from your phone can also leave its mark on your face. “Certain wavelength of visible light, specifically blue light, which is emitted from our computers, televisions, tablets, smartphones, and even some indoor light bulbs, can also contribute to spots,” Dr. Bowe says. Plus, “new studies are demonstrating that women who live in urban areas and are exposed to higher levels of pollutants are more likely to develop brown spots on their skin.” Combat the damage with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant cream.

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Your skin feels tight

Cropped image of handsome Afro American man touching his faceVGstockstudio/ShutterstockThis one common skin-care mistake is ruining your face: washing it too harshly. You might think that “tight” feeling after washing is a sign of firmness, but you actually want your skin to be supple, nourished, and flexible. “If your skin feels tight or squeaky clean after you cleanse, you are actually damaging the skin’s healthy barrier and drying the skin out,” Dr. Bowe says. “Make sure to use a cleanser that doesn’t strip skin of its natural oils—instead opt for gentle, hydrating cleansers that moisturize as they cleanse, like Dove’s beauty bar.”

Wrinkles are starting to appear

Beauty of Dirty SkinCourtesy Little, Brown and CompanyIf you’re starting to suddenly notice wrinkles that weren’t there before, remember you are what you eat—or your skin is, according to research. “As I discuss in detail in my book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, there is some very compelling evidence about how diet can stave off wrinkles,” Dr. Bowe says. Vitamin C fights UV damage, lycopene stabilizes DNA in cells, polyphenols repair damaged skin, and zinc and vitamin E act as antioxidants. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts contain these important nutrients, and adding them to your diet can protect your skin from the damage that leads to wrinkles.

You look worn out

Sleepy brunette woman waking up and rubbing her eyes.PhotoMediaGroup/ShutterstockAccording to studies, a haggard appearance can be caused by an unlikely culprit: sugar. (Check out the things that happen to your body when you stop eating sugar.) “Sugar impacts your skin through myriad pathways in the body, such as spiking insulin and inflammation,” Dr. Bowe says. Plus, glycation, the bonding of sugar to other molecules, makes proteins stiff, damaged, and susceptible to free radicals. “Imagine what that does to the proteins in your skin!” Dr. Bowe says. “This bonding is a prominent feature of aging.” Collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, are among the most vulnerable proteins in this process, she says.

You’ve lost your “glow”

Woman applying moisturizing cream on handsArman Zhenikeyev/ShutterstockAs the rate at which cells rejuvenate slows, your face loses radiance and can make you look less youthful. To retain that healthy glow, Dr. Bowe suggests an over-the-counter retinol. (Find out other products skin-care gurus can’t live without.) “Retinoids are heavily researched and proven to boost your skin’s health and appearance,” she says. “Vitamin A-based retinoids normalize cell turnover—a process that slows with age—to promote clear, smooth, radiant, even-toned, healthy skin.” But, you can’t use these products while pregnant or nursing (pregnancy will give you its own glow anyway!).

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Your cheeks are sagging

Correction of the cheekbones cheeks with the help of injections of hyaluronic acid. Professional beauty clinic specialist works. patient's eyes closed. Close-up.Kalamurzing/ShutterstockIf you feel like you’ve begun to take on a hollow appearance, it might be because you’re losing fat below your skin. “This layer of fat supports and cushions the skin, giving us our plump, youthful contours—however, as we mature, we lose volume in this layer,” Dr. Bowe says. Gaining a few pounds may help, but Dr. Bowe says to also consider facial fillers. “Additionally, research is showing that facial yoga might help,” she says. A recent study from Northwestern showed a facial exercise program made middle-aged women’s cheeks appear fuller and more youthful. Read about more new skin tightening treatments that really work.

Your skin has a papery texture

Hands of cropped unrecognisable woman holding cosmetic oil.LStockStudio/ShutterstockEven though you’re not yet elderly, prematurely aging skin may start to look as thin as your grandmother’s. “Two things contribute to that fragile, paper-like texture that develops on the skin,” Dr. Bowe says. “First, levels of calcium, which is critical for keeping the skin firm, drop as our skin matures. Second, the pH of the skin climbs.” These pH changes can eat away at collagen. Dr. Bowe suggests using a serum with calcium amino acids and peptides. (Here are the best serums to solve all your skin problems). Also, adjust your pH using a moisturizer with probiotics. “Probiotics restore enzyme activity closer to that of young, healthy skin,” she says.

You have rough patches

closeup on dry dehydrated skin on the heels of male feet with callusesalexjey/ShutterstockHardened skin can happen after too long in a dried-out state. “When skin gets dry or inflamed, it tries to protect itself by piling on extra layers of dead skin cells,” Dr. Bowe says. “The outermost layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, gets thicker and that makes the skin feel rough.” This piling up can also be a symptom of psoriasis, which speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. To treat it, Dr. Bowe recommends the therapeutic botanicals in MetaDerm. And try the best skin-care routine for psoriasis.

You’re getting tiny little bumps

Milia (Milium) - pimples around eye on skin.vchal/ShutterstockThis is one of those skin conditions that look like acne but aren’t. Tiny white or flesh-colored bumps called milia are caused by buildup from sun damage or harsh face products. “Milia are small cysts filled with a protein called keratin, and form as a result of the skin’s localized inability to exfoliate naturally,” Dr. Bowe says. “To address milia, look for products that promote gentle exfoliation and cell turnover,” which may contain the ingredients glycolic acid or retinol. Also, remember to use sunscreen.

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Your lips are thinning out

mouthRob Bouwman/ShutterstockCollagen also affects the fullness of your lips, and as you lose it your lips may deflate. Before you head for an injection of lip fillers, try using a lip product with sunscreen to protect your pout. “Prevention of sun damage is the best thing people can do to reduce signs of aging on the lips and around the mouth,” dermatologist Madeline C. Krauss, MD, told the American Academy of Dermatology. If you want to go the professional route, here’s what a dermatologist would do for lip lines.

You’ve noticed puffy, dark eyes

retinolgoodluz/ShutterstockDo you need these remedies to treat the dark circles under your eyes? Because the skin around your eyes is very delicate, it’s prone to change and may start to look older with heavy eyelids, puffiness, and darkness underneath. “Our superficial fat pads tend to separate as we age and cause the undereye puffiness to become more pronounced,” Dr. Bowe says. “Often, bags under your eyes means the skin around them is retaining fluid.” Try cutting down on salt and alcohol, and get enough sleep. Dr. Bowe also suggests eye creams containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and vitamin C. Also, “anti-inflammatory ingredients like caffeine can help to constrict your blood vessels and improve circulation,” she says.

Your skin is easily damaged

Bruise on woman's leg skin.Santipong Srikhamta/ShutterstockAccording to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, aging skin is more vulnerable to injury, and can be up to four times slower to heal—and sun damage can accelerate this process. Thinner, more fragile skin without as much of a protective fat layer can put you at risk; and in addition, fragile blood vessels under the skin can break more easily. Here’s the doctor-approved way to get rid of bruises, ASAP.

You’ve developed skin cancer

Female applying cream to her handsFeomarty Olga/ShutterstockSkin damage doesn’t just manifest itself in your appearance—it can have life-threatening effects. “When our skin is exposed to so many stressors that its protective and reparative mechanisms are simply over-burdened, that’s when we see the progression from a healthy skin cell, to an atypical cell, to a cancerous cell,” Dr. Bowe says. “The most important thing you can do to protect your skin against skin cancer is to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen every single day.” She also recommends the antioxidant supplement Heliocare to neutralize free radicals in your skin. Here are surprising facts about skin cancer everyone should know.

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Warning Signs of Home Infestation

Why you should care about things you can’t see

Gray house exterior with column porch on a rainy day. Northwest, USAArtazum/Shutterstock

Cockroaches spread disease, according to Ron Harrison, PhD, entomologist and director of Technical Services for Orkin. However, houseflies are even worse and they can spread the Zika virus, among others illnesses. (Check out this list of the 10 most dangerous bugs to watch out for.) Mice and rats can carry the rare but deadly hantavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Watch out for these signs of infestation:

Lots of spiders

common house spider on a smooth tile floor seen from ground level in a kitchen in a residential homeCBCK/ShutterstockThe mainstay of a spider’s diet is insects; if you see spiders in your house, it’s a safe bet the house has insects in plentiful supply, according to the Panther Pest Control Team. Even if you don’t see other bugs, it means the spiders are controlling the population—just don’t expect that to last. Consider yourself warned, and either call an exterminator and follow these tips to bug-proof your house.

Lots of ladybugs

A lot of ladybirds catching the last sunlight of the sunny day. JakubD/Shutterstock

Ladybugs are hardcore predators, according to Learn About Nature. Their favorite food delicacy is the aphid, which is a serious enemy of your garden. So, you’ll actually want to encourage ladybugs to make a home outside your house. But if you’re seeing ladybugs IN your house, it could be a sign of mites, whiteflies, and scale insects. But those are the ones you should be going after, according to Terminix, which advises you let ladybugs alone. (“They’re just seeking refuge from the cold,” my exterminator, Mike, told me.)


You hear tapping in your walls

White living room with black furniture and

That’s one of the sounds termites make, and if you think it sounds like they’re banging their tiny little destructive heads against the wall, you’re right. “Homeowners who hear termite sounds and noises should call pest control experts immediately, since they may have sizable colonies within their homes or surrounding areas,” advises Orkin.

Termites are just one of the hidden home expenses that can drain your bank account.

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Little piles of “fish scales”

many of brown winged termite (alates) on ground.phadungsak sawasdee/Shutterstock

After termites swarm, or reproduce and find a new nest, they shed their wings, according to the realtors at First Team, who say that catching a termite infestation early can save you stress and money. The wings look a lot like fish scales and are usually found discarded in piles. A pile of discarded wings doesn’t necessarily mean you have a termite infestation but termites are nearby and could end up in your home next.

Tubes of mud along external walls

Termite making their route or Mud tunnelShutter Ryder/Shutterstock

“To protect the colony from external dangers like weather and predators, termites build tubes made of mud, dirt, and saliva to and from a source of food,” according to First Team. So if you start seeing small mud tubes along your external walls, you should consider it a sign that termites consider your house a tasty treat.

Tiny wood-colored pellets near your home

A pile of termite frass pellets on redwood boards tjp55/Shutterstock

Termite droppings, also known as frass, are little pellets the color of wood. A pile of droppings outside your home indicates there are termites nearby, according to First Team. Termite frass on its own may not mean you already have termites, but it may only be a matter of time.

Weak floors, peeling paint

Cracked wall, Paint white peeling off an old interior wall.ann_saowaluk/Shutterstock

Termites burrow into wood and also leave moisture behind, which is not only bad for wood but also for your paint. If your floors feel weak underfoot or if the paint on your walls is peeling, bubbling, or cracking, you may already have a serious termite problem on your hands—call an exterminator.

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If you think you spilled sesame seeds

Side view of a brown wild house mouse inside of a fancy blue and white tea cup with other dishes stacked in the cabinet. A rodent is something you do not wish to find in your kitchen pantry.Landshark1/ShutterstockMouse droppings can look a lot like black sesame seeds. Sometimes they’re described as looking like basmati rice. Seeing these things scattered in your cupboards or behind your toaster oven means you probably have mice, according to Terminix. Here are some non-chemical ways to get rid of household pests.

Shredded paper and fibers in the corner of your garage

Shredded banknotes. Recycling paper money Bank Russia. Paper texture.lapandr/Shutterstock

That pile of confetti didn’t get there on its own—it’s the handiwork of mice getting comfortable. Even if you don’t have mysterious “sesame seeds” in your kitchen, it’s only a matter of time before the mice will be leaving their calling cards.

A fluttering noise in your walls

bat sit on the dooralexfan32/Shutterstock

Bats are not only quiet animals, but they LIKE their quiet and don’t take kindly to hearing loud noises. So if you happen to slam a door (particularly at night, since bats are nocturnal) and then hear fluttering or squeaking behind your walls, you may have bats. Bat exterminator Get Bats Out tells of a family that had 600 bats living in their kitchen walls before they realized what was happening. The only time they could hear the bats was when they slammed the refrigerator door.

A pile of sawdust near your deck

The carpenter bee was moving into its nest ,life cycle of the carpenter bee.thebunwangs/Shutterstock

If you find perfectly round holes in wooden objects (think window frames, decks, doors, outdoor furniture), this could indicate the beginnings of a carpenter bee infestation. Since they don’t eat the wood—they just use it to create shelter—you’ll find piles of sawdust nearby these mysterious holes. It’s crucial to get rid of them ASAP because not only can they do extensive damage (think 10 feet-long burrows), but they also return year after year after year and can actually attract woodpeckers (who are attracted to bee larvae and don’t mind that your house isn’t a live tree). Don’t miss these home improvement fails that will make you cringe.

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If you see an anthill just outside your home

anthill in the Lone Star State of Texas, on brick sidewalk pavers with starsKathyDentzKeith/Shutterstock

If you have a few ants crawling around your kitchen or pantry, it may be no big deal. But if those ants you see in the kitchen came from a colony inside your walls, that could be bad, especially if they are carpenter ants, according to exterminator American Pest. Like carpenter bees, carpenter ants leave sawdust around as they burrow through your wood (the sawdust left by termites may be identified by its relative muddiness). Follow these 13 simple ways to rid your home of ants.

If your garage is a welcome-wagon

Open garage door in suburban family homeAlita Xander/Shutterstock

If you tend to leave your garage open, you shouldn’t be surprised by an infestation, whether it’s bugs or four-legged mammals. The same is true if your garage isn’t weather-sealed, or if there is a gap in the weather stripping. And it’s not just your garage. You should make sure you have no entry points anywhere, including your attic, your foundation, your vents, your windows, and any other areas where small pests might see an opening. Large openings can be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh. Here are 12 more home improvement projects you can do yourself.

You bought second-hand furniture

Vintage wooden furniture in trash warehouse of antique market. Retro backgroundRadiokafka/Shutterstock

Secondhand furniture can invite unwanted pests like bed bugs into your home, so be sure to inspect any furniture before bringing it into your house. Other signs of bed bugs include stains on your sheets and pillowcases, itchy skin, flaking skin and these other signs.

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Aging Skin: Which Body Parts Show the First Signs?


old handshiroshi teshigawara/Shutterstock

Especially in women, your hands will be one of the first body parts you’ll notice showing signs of age, says board-certified dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD, FAAD. Hormonal changes results in a loss of skin elasticity and volume loss on the backs of our hands,” she says. “These changes cause the crepey appearance of skin and also makes the veins very prominent.” Plus, your hands are rarely covered and form age spots from sun exposure, adding to the signs of aging. Slathering sunscreen on your hands or slipping on a pair of driving gloves can block out the harmful UV rays, says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pasadena, California, and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. Here are more ways to get younger-looking hands.


Eye with crow's feetsruilk/Shutterstock

“Laugh lines” got their name for a reason. “The skin around our eyes is thinner and forms wrinkles from repeated habits, such as squinting, smiling, and sun damage,” says Dr. Papantoniou. Most sunscreen formulas shouldn’t go near the eyes, but wearing sunglasses offers double protection: blocking UV rays and reducing the need to squint.


Close up Bare Lips and Nose of a Young African Womanmichaelheim/Shutterstock

Fine lines around your lips often develop after the ones by your eyes and on your forehead, says Dr. Papantoniou. Sun damage plays a role, but so do habits that purse your lips, such as drinking from straws and water bottles, she says. Learn more about how dermatologists get rid of lip lines.


Face of young girl with wrinkles like an old ladysruilk/Shutterstock

Because you scrunch it for deep expressions, the forehead will also likely be one of the first places on your face to develop wrinkles, says Dr. Papantoniou. Products containing retinol increase collagen to reduce wrinkles, plus exfoliate dead skin to make your skin look brighter and softer. Dr. Lee recommends using Roc Multi Correxion 5 In 1 Restoring Facial Night Cream or a Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair product once a night (or every other night if your skin isn’t used to the drying products) to rejuvenate the skin.

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Woman's chin and neckChris Tefme/Shutterstock

No matter how diligent you are about protecting your face from wrinkles, you might forget to bring that SPF down to your neck. Applying sunscreen to your exposed skin every day can keep sun damage at bay, but it won’t prevent all signs of aging. “‘Turkey neck’ is the term used describe skin laxity that occur as we age under the chin and upper neck area,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “This develops from a combination of volume loss and skin laxity.” If the loose skin is bothering you, as a dermatologist about Ultherapy, a noninvasive treatment that uses ultrasound to tighten the skin, she suggests. Find out more about how to make your neck look younger.


Man man with scar on his hand shoulder. Laser Scar Reduction conceptAlbina Glisic/Shutterstock

Deep necklines leave the exposed area of your chest wide open for the damage of UV rays. You might start to notice broken blood vessels, sunspots, and discoloration, says Dr. Lee. If you don’t want to switch to higher necklines, she recommends applying sunscreen of at least SPF 30 containing titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide to your chest while you’re getting ready. Put it on before you get dressed so it can dry without getting on your clothes. Check out these other dermatologist-recommended tricks for getting rid of wrinkles.


legs older person, Knee Pain, elder osteoarthritisojoel/ShutterstockThe skin on your knees usually starts to sag before the rest of your legs do. “You have a lot of bony prominence and tendons and ligaments, but no fat and muscle,” says Dr. Lee. “You don’t have as much of that cushion to plump up the skin there, so that’s where you notice the hollows and boniness.” Salicylic acid and urea in skin-care products exfoliate, so choosing a moisturizer that contains one—Dr. Lee recommends CeraVe Renewing SA Cream—will hydrate, brighten, and smooth to give your skin new life.


Wrinkles and creases on his elbow. Old wrinkled elbow.Timonina/Shutterstock

Like your knees, your elbows are mostly bone, without fat and muscle to plump them up. On top of that, people tend to lean on their elbows, and the weight of that puts stress on the area, says Dr. Lee. Using a moisturizer with salicylic acid or urea can rejuvenate leathery elbows. Don’t miss these other 11 everyday habits that can cause wrinkles.

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Gray hair menbogdych/Shutterstock

Most people notice their first gray hairs in their 30s as their bodies stop producing pigment cells. By the time they’re 50, half the population can expect 50 percent of their head to go gray, Stanford University dermatology professor Anthony Oro tells Good Housekeeping. Those gray hairs tend to be thinner than your colored strands, but they feel thicker because the scalp produces less oil, drying out your hair. Make sure you know these sneaky reasons you might go gray prematurely.

Next, find out the 15 signs your body is aging faster than you are.

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10 Signs of Disease Your Feet Can Reveal

You notice: Dry, flaky feet


It could be: Thyroid problems, especially if moisturizer doesn’t help. When the thyroid gland (the butterfly-shaped gland in the base of your neck) goes on the fritz, it doesn’t properly produce thyroid hormones, which control metabolic rate, blood pressure, tissue growth, and skeletal and nervous system development. “Thyroid problems cause severe dryness of the skin,” says Marlene Reid, DPM, a foot specialist in Naperville, Illinois. “When we see cracking on the feet, or if moisturizer doesn’t improve dryness over a few days, we usually refer patients to their primary doctor to make sure their thyroids are OK.” Brittle toenails can also signal thyroid complications. Don’t miss these other 13 silent signs of a thyroid problem

You notice: Bald toes


It could be: Arterial disease. If the fuzz on your toes suddenly disappears, it could signal poor blood circulation caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). “Signs of PAD can include decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin,” says Suzanne Fuchs, DPM, a podiatric surgeon at North Shore University Hospital in New York. A buildup of plaque in the leg arteries, PAD affects about 8 million Americans. Symptoms are subtle, but doctors can check for a healthy pulse in the foot or spot PAD on an X-ray. “If I take an X-ray of a broken foot, and I see a hardening of the arteries, 99 percent of the time, the same thing is happening in the heart blood vessels,” says Gary A. Pichney, DPM, a podiatric surgeon of The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center. (These 11 tests detect silent heart diseases.)

You notice: Ulcers that don’t heal


It could be: Diabetes. Uncontrolled glucose levels can damage nerves and cause poor circulation, so blood doesn’t reach the feet. When blood doesn’t get to a wound caused by, say, irritating shoes, the skin doesn’t heal properly. “Many, many people with diabetes are diagnosed first because of foot problems,” says Reid. Other signs of diabetes may include tingling or numbness of the feet. Ask your doctor about getting your blood sugar levels tested. Memorize these 12 foot care tips you should follow if you have diabetes

You notice: Enlarged, painful big toe


It could be: What you ate. Gorged on wine and steak? The painful aftermath could be gout, a type of arthritis that usually affects the joint of the big toe. (Here are some natural remedies for the pain and swelling.) Foods high in purine, a chemical compound found in red meats, fish, and certain alcohol, can trigger an attack by raising levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is normally excreted through urine, but is overproduced or under-excreted in some people. “You’ll see the deposition of the uric acid in the joint, most commonly the big toe or the ankle,” says Bob Baravarian, DPM, a podiatric foot and ankle specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “The patient will wake up with a hard, red, swollen joint. It’s extremely painful.” A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for short-term relief and suggest a low-purine diet for long-term prevention. Whether you have gout or not, learn how foot doctors prevent foot problems when wearing sandals

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You notice: Tiny, red lines under the toenail


It could be: A heart infection. Red streaks underneath the toenails or fingernails could be broken blood vessels known as splinter hemorrhages. These occur when small blood clots damage the tiny capillaries under the nails. They can signal endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining. People who have an existing heart condition, have received a pacemaker, or who have chronically suppressed immune systems (such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, HIV patients, and diabetes patients) are at higher risk of developing endocarditis. The infection can result in heart failure if left untreated. If you notice splinter hemorrhages on your toenails or fingernails, and haven’t experienced any recent trauma to the nail, see your doctor to check your heart and blood circulation. Learn what else your natural nail color says about your health.

You notice: Clubbing


It could be: Lung cancer or heart disease. Another symptom that appears in both toes and fingers, clubbing is often associated with lung cancer, chronic lung infection, heart disease, or intestinal disease. Lung cancer and heart disease decrease vascular resistance, which means blood flow to the small arteries in the toenails and fingertips will increase. Tissue swells and results in the “clubbed” appearance (rounder, wider fingers and toes). Though patients are typically aware they have a disease that is causing the clubbing, it’s best to get checked if you see any abnormalities. Don’t ignore these other silent signs of major health problems.

You notice: Pitted toenails


It could be: Psoriasis. If you find tiny holes, grooves, or ridges in your toenails, you may have nail psoriasis. Though most people who experience nail psoriasis also have skin psoriasis (an autoimmune disease that makes skin patchy and irritated), 5 percent of people with nail psoriasis aren’t affected elsewhere. “If you’ve never been diagnosed with psoriasis, but your toenails have little pits in them, you should get them checked out,” says Pichney. Other symptoms include white patches and horizontal lines across the nails. To treat psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe topical creams or steroids to be injected under the nail. Learn more about the skin care routine dermatologists recommend for psoriasis.

You notice: Spooned nails


It could be: Anemia or lupus. Do you have a depression in the toenail deep enough to hold a water droplet? Also known as koilonychias, spoon-shaped toenails or fingernails can indicate iron deficiency, as well as hemochromatosis (overproduction of iron), Raynaud’s disease (which affects blood supply to the fingers and toes), and sometimes lupus (an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks cells, tissues, and organs). Spooned nails occasionally appear in infants, but normalize in the first few years of life. If you notice spooning, contact your physician, who will administer a blood test to identify the exact cause. Check out these other things your nails reveal about your health.

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You notice: A straight line under your toenails

iStock/Manuel Faba Ortega

It could be: Skin cancer. A dark, vertical line underneath a toenail could be acral lentiginous melanoma, or hidden melanoma—a form of the skin cancer that appears on obscure body parts. (Other hidden melanomas include eye melanoma and mouth melanoma.) “It will be a black line from the base of your nail to the end of the nail,” says Pichney. “It should be seen by a podiatrist or dermatologist. You want to make sure it’s not fungus, which is usually yellow brown and sporadic throughout the whole nail.”  Although only 5 percent of all diagnosed melanoma cases are the hidden kind, hidden melanoma is the most common type in dark-skinned people. Here are other skin cancer symptoms that aren’t on your skin

You notice: A suddenly high arch


It could be: Nerve damage. “Most high-arched feet are associated with some form of underlying neuromuscular condition,” says Pichney. “If someone has thinning of the arch muscles in the foot, it could be an indication of a neurological condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT).” An inherited disorder that damages the peripheral nerves (those outside the brain and spinal cords), CMT can also cause changes in gait, numbness in the feet, difficulty balancing, loss of muscles in the lower legs, and later on, similar symptoms in the arms and hands. See your doctor if you notice abnormalities. “For anything that’s different or changes when it comes to the foot, see your podiatrist right away,” says Reid. Also watch out for these sneaky ways your feet can mess with your sleep

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