Check-Up: There’s something wrong with my skin
S.S. emails Check Up about a skin problem she has been experiencing recently.
She notices marks which appear on her skin without her experiencing any trauma or injury; but they look like she was beaten.
The affected area also itches. She visited her doctor, but the treatment hasn’t worked.
Sometimes skin rashes are due to some process directly involving the skin, where using topical applications should help resolve the symptoms.
And there are other times when the rash seen is a symptom of an internal, systemic disorder.
In this case, tests and investigations need to be done to discover and treat the underlying cause.
It can also be self-inflicted – a side effect of taking certain medications or supplements. Obviously, in this situation the cause would need to be treated or resolved in order to prevent the recurrence of the bruising and rash.
It would seem like a very good idea for SS to visit a dermatologist, who would most likely be able to identify the cause of this particular rash either by examination or by investigations, including skin biopsy if needed.
The dermatologist would either treat the identified cause or refer her to another doctor if the cause requires specialist treatment. A good family doctor could also sort this problem out.
There are several important disorders present with skin-related symptoms which include a tendency to bruise easily.
- use of blood thinners (medications) – Many people take blood thinners every day, especially after suffering with a deep vein thrombosis (clot in the leg) or pulmonary embolism (lung clot). People also take them for conditions like heart disease and stroke. Any use of aspirin or related drugs can affect the skin.
- Use of blood-thinning herbs like turmeric and ginger.
- Certain antibiotics, like penicillin.
- Supplements, like fish oil and omega-3.
- The ageing skin – Elderly people eventually experience thinning of their skin with the loss of underlying fat. These changes, along with exposure to the sun, can cause small blood vessels in the skin to break down and bleed.
- Eczema – Vigorous itching of the skin covered with eczema can also result in bruising of the skin.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels).
- Leukaemia – Blood cancer. Here, there is often a skin rash associated with easy bruising.
- Radiation treatment.
- Vitamin deficiencies – Vitamin C, vitamin K.
- Anaemias – For example, iron deficiency anaemia.
- Infections, including strep throat
Some people may have a genetic cause which is responsible for them bruising easily; however, if the problem with easy bruising is recent and persists, this could signify a medical problem which needs the intervention of a doctor.
When bruising is seen alone or with a rash, cold ice packs can be applied to the area involved several times a day.
The skin should be protected from exposure to sunlight and daily moisturisers should be applied. Hot showers or hot baths should be avoided.
Wearing long-sleeved clothes can help protect the body from exposure to sunlight, as well as preventing access to scratch the skin.
Antihistamines can be taken to lessen itching when this is present. If the condition persists, you must see a physician to determine the cause of the rash and bruising.
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