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Lupus

How to cope with lupus

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It is very likely that learning to cope with the persistent exhaustion and chronic pain associated with lupus takes its toll on the mind and body, sometimes contributing to depression and hopelessness. So, we’ve put together some helpful lupus-coping ideas.

A lady Living with chronic pain
Living with chronic pain can make you feel helpless, but steps can be taken to help you regain control.

The Lupus Foundation of America notes that an estimated 1.5 million people have a form of lupus in the United States, and each year there are about 16,000 new cases.

Four different forms of lupus exist: neonatal, cutaneous, drug-induced, and systemic, accounting for 70% of all cases of lupus.

In half of all systemic lupus cases, a major tissue or organ in the body , including the heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs, will be affected.

Around 10-15 percent of individuals with lupus may die due to complications of lupus prematurely. However, due to the advances in diagnosis and disease treatment that are available, most individuals should expect to live a “normal lifespan.”

Coping with lupus can be challenging due to the number of areas of the body that are affected by the disease. Pain, lifestyle changes, and the emotional issues that arise from the disease are often cited by people with lupus as the most challenging aspects of living with lupus.

Here are the smart steps from Nccmed to help boost the quality of life when living with lupus.

Get regular exercise

When you have lupus, there are three key reasons why you should initiate an exercise regimen and stick with it.

three-people-stretching-in-the-park-
Low-impact exercise can help to improve symptoms that are associated with lupus.
  1. Exercise keeps you moving and delays, or even prevents, disability and losing your independence.
  2. Exercise reduces fatigue.
  3. Exercise boosts your mood by releasing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with brain receptors that reduce sensitivity to pain and also lower rates of depression.

Before beginning an exercise plan, always speak to a healthcare professional; they can assess your strength, balance , and flexibility and tailor an exercise program to meet your needs.

Your upper and lower muscles as well as your core muscles should work in a well-balanced exercise program and include between four and eight different exercises that can be rotated through.

You should also aim to do some sort of physical activity every day, even if you are just doing light exercise such as stretching. When in pain, it can often be a challenge to remain motivated, but the more you move, the better you will feel. With the following tips, keep inspired.

Find inspiration. Think about what drives you to exercise, such as maintaining your freedom, and when you feel unmotivated, concentrate on that feeling.

Set achievable goals. Set yourself small, reachable goals. The more you achieve your objectives, the harder you may want to drive yourself.

Keep a progress journal. Marking your progress will motivate you to keep on track, whether you are tracking your progress on an app, a calendar, or a piece of paper.

For individuals with lupus, low-impact physical activity is helpful. To reduce muscle stiffness, improve muscular strength, relieve stress , promote sleep, and prevent osteoporosis, try walking , cycling, and swimming. Your heart and cardiovascular system will also be protected by exercise.

Maintain a healthful diet

It is necessary to try to maintain a well-balanced and varied diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables , and whole grains, and a reasonable amount of meat, poultry , and fish, even though there is no particular diet for lupus.

Eat foods rich in omega-3

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with improved quality of sleep and a decline in depressive symptoms in people with lupus. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and are present in fatty fish, nuts , and seeds.

However, Omega-6 is suspected of functioning as a pro-inflammatory and could lead to chronic diseases.

Take a vitamin D supplement

In bone health and immune system health, vitamin D plays an important role. Vitamin D can be obtained by exposure to ultraviolet ( UV ) rays, by consuming vitamin D-rich foods, or by supplementation.

One research found that a higher risk of end-stage renal disease is associated with low levels of vitamin D in lupus.

Although people with lupus need to reduce their exposure to sunlight, vitamin D supplementation is a safe and efficient way to ensure that you get the recommended dose.

Avoid alfalfa

People with lupus are advised to avoid alfalfa. Lupus flares that may result in weakness, muscle pain, changes in the function of the immune system, and kidney complications have been related to Alfalfa tablets.

Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid known as L-canavanine, which activates the immune system and increases inflammation in those with lupus.

Limit alcohol

While it is not an issue in itself for people with lupus to drink a small amount of alcohol, it can affect the efficacy of some drugs.

For example , non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with ulcers and bleeding, such as aspirin , ibuprofen, celecoxib, and naproxen. With alcohol use, the risk of developing ulcers or experiencing internal bleeding dramatically increases.

Drinking alcohol also limits the efficacy of anticoagulants such as warfarin and a chemotherapy medication called methotrexate.

Reduce fat and salt intake

To decrease inflammation, corticosteroids may be administered. Corticosteroids mimic hormones produced by the adrenal glands, specifically cortisol, which helps to control the immune system and rapidly decreases inflammation-related pain , tenderness, swelling, and warmth.

Lifting blood pressure , cholesterol, and lipid levels are side effects of corticosteroid usage. It may also lead to these conditions to eat too much fat and salt, so it is recommended that you restrict them in your diet.

Watch your weight

Obesity happens often with lupus. Latest research has shown that obesity is related to depressive symptoms and “increased activity of the disease in women with lupus.”

To avoid lupus depression, consider maintaining a stable body mass index ( BMI) with a healthy , balanced diet and daily physical activity.

Moreover, alcohol use can lead to new health issues or worsen existing problems.

Limit sun exposure

Among those with lupus, photosensitivity is prevalent, and excessive sun exposure can cause lupus flares. In those with cutaneous and systemic lupus, exposure to UV rays may cause rashes, tiredness, joint pain , fever, and other symptoms.

Protect yourself from lupus flare-ups caused by sun exposure by:

  • using a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF
  • liberally appling a sunblock of at least SPF 30 if you are outside for extended periods, and making sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays
  • protecting your lips with a wax-based lip balm that is at least SPF 15
  • wearing sun protective clothing
  • wearing a wide-brimmed hat and wrap-around sunglasses
  • avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • limiting time spent at higher altitudes or around snow and water
  • using UV-protective film to cover house and car windows

It can make a lot of difference in avoiding flare-ups by making a few changes to limit your exposure to sunlight.

Also, bear in mind that indoor lighting can also give off UV rays when analyzing your work or home environment.

Remain stress-free

Try to stop being depressed and nervous, although it might be easier said than done. There is a considerable impact of stress on the immune system. Many individuals with lupus find that their symptoms intensify in periods of high stress and can lead to a flare.

Often stressful circumstances are inevitable, but learning how to destress will help you cope more effectively with periods of tension.

Soothe discomfort with meditation on mindfulness. Meditation on Mindfulness helps you to concentrate your focus on the moment and to embrace the world as it is. According to study, mindfulness meditation can not only help build a sense of peace, but it can also decrease the severity of pain.

Breathe deeply. Breathe in through the nose and feel the beginning of your breath in your abdomen and work upward, to the top of your head. Reverse this process when you exhale through your mouth. For 5 minutes, repeat.

Communicate. Sharing your thoughts with others and how you feel will lighten the burden and make you feel less depressed.

Laugh. It will help to release endorphins and boost your mood by having something to smile about, whether it be watching your tv show or talking to a friend who makes you laugh.

Move. You don’t have to sprint to destress; light exercises such as yoga , tai chi, and pilates will help melt tension away and strengthen the strength of your muscles.

Get enough rest

It may increase inflammation in the body by not having enough quality sleep. The additional inflammation may worsen symptoms of pain, depressed mood, exhaustion, and inability to focus properly in people with lupus. About 80 percent of people with lupus are affected by exhaustion.

The following steps will assist you in achieving the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep you need every night:

  • Do not use any device that emits blue light — including computers, tablets, televisions, and smartphones — 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Make sure your room temperature is slightly cool and that the room is dark — use blackout curtains if necessary.
  • Use a white noise machine to block out external sounds.
  • Ensure you have a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding.
  • If you are unable to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, get back up and sit in a dimly lit room until you are ready to try again.
  • Stay consistent with the times you go to sleep and get up — even on weekends and holidays.

Exercise daily. To facilitate better sleep, exercise in the morning and have at least 5-6 hours of downtime before bedtime.

Manage pain. Make sure you control the discomfort so that you are enough relaxed to fall asleep. Take a warm bath before bed, or ask your partner or family member for a pain-relieving massage.

Limit naps. To stop them messing with the sleep-wake cycle of your body, restrict naps throughout the day to 30-60 minutes.

Be mindful of your eating patterns. Never go to bed hungry, but about 1-2 hours before you go to bed, it is advisable to avoid eating and drinking.

Limit caffeine intake. For around 6 hours, caffeine remains in your bloodstream, so avoid drinks and foods that contain caffeine after 3 p.m.

Avoid alcohol. To help you get to sleep, never use alcohol. While after drinking alcohol, you can fall asleep quicker, it significantly reduces the quality of your sleep.

Having a chronic condition such as lupus will make you feel powerless sometimes. Yet you can regain power and live a positive and productive life with lupus by adopting strategies that can enhance your quality of life.

Fibromyalgia

Diseases that imitate polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)

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Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) has symptoms that are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia, among others. As a result, it’s possible for doctors to misdiagnose it.

PMR is characterized by widespread muscle stiffness, soreness, and pain, which is generally worse in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity. It is common in people over the age of 50 and affects both sides of the body equally.

Other PMR symptoms include:

This page examines the diseases that resemble PMR, as well as the similarities and distinctions between them. It also discusses how doctors distinguish between various diseases and make a diagnosis.

What is polymyalgia rheumatica?

polymyalgia rheumatica patient

PMR is a disorder that produces widespread aching and stiffness in joints throughout the body, according to the American College of Rheumatology. It frequently has an impact on:

  • upper arms and shoulders
  • neck
  • hips
  • lower back
  • thighs

The average age at which symptoms appear is 70 years old. PMR can affect anyone, however it is more common in white people and occurs significantly more frequently in girls than in males. The causes for this remain a mystery. Doctors aren’t sure what causes PMR, but inflammation appears to be a factor.

PMR usually lasts 1–5 years before it resolves, however this varies. Medications, exercise, and rest can help people manage their symptoms during this time.

Giant cell arteritis, a potentially serious illness that causes narrowing or blockages in big blood arteries around the head, neck, and arms, affects about 15% of people with PMR. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of giant cell arteritis:

  • headaches
  • visual difficulties, such as double vision or vision loss
  • jaw pain while eating
  • scalp tenderness or aching around the temples

What diseases mimic PMR?

Many of the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are similar to those of a variety of other disorders, including:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune illness in which the immune system attacks the joints. Similar to PMR, it produces joint discomfort and stiffness. Fatigue, a high temperature, a lack of appetite, and weight loss are all people of RA. Because of their similarities, RA and PMR are easily confused.

Furthermore, both RA and PMR affect both sides of the body and are more common in elderly people. Around 30% of people with PMR have edema and degeneration in their joints, which are also RA symptoms.

However, there are some distinctions between PMR and RA symptoms. Joint swelling is not a common symptom of PMR, although it is a common symptom of RA. Furthermore, RA frequently starts in the hands, feet, wrists, and ankles. These joints are normally unaffected by PMR.

Lupus

Another autoimmune disease is lupus. Instead than targeting the joints specifically, the immune system tackles a variety of tissues and organs. Joint and muscular pain, a rash on the nose and cheeks, and intense exhaustion are the prominent symptoms. Apart from the face rash in the shape of a butterfly, lupus can resemble PMR.

Other signs and symptoms of lupus include:

  • mouth sores
  • headaches
  • a high temperature
  • hair loss
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • skin that is sensitive to the sun

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a persistent pain condition that affects the entire body. It causes muscle stiffness and tension, similar to PMR, especially in the morning. It can also make you feel tired.

Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • difficulty sleeping
  • difficulty thinking or remembering
  • headaches
  • digestive symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome

Because fibromyalgia is not inflammatory, it will not respond to treatments that relieve pain by lowering inflammation.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection spread by tick bites. Like PMR, it causes joint pain and stiffness, as well as fever and fatigue. It can also result in:

  • a rash around the bite, which may resemble a bull’s-eye
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes

If Lyme disease is not treated, it can progress to more serious symptoms like:

  • severe headaches
  • neck stiffness
  • loss of muscle tone in the face, or facial drooping
  • rashes on other areas of the body
  • severe arthritis, particularly of the knees or larger joints
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • nerve pain or numbness
  • shooting or tingling sensations in the hands and feet

Tick bites are easy to miss because ticks are so little. Additionally, while there are tests for Lyme disease, they are not always accurate.

If Lyme infection is suspected, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection. If they don’t work, it’s possible that the symptoms aren’t caused by Lyme disease.

Cancer

Fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss are some of the symptoms related with PMR in cancer people.

There’s also a link between a PMR diagnosis and an increased cancer risk. During a 40-week follow-up, a 2020 study discovered a greater occurrence of cancer in people with PMR.

What methods do doctors use to make a diagnosis?

Because there is no single test for PMR, it might be difficult to diagnose. Doctors will instead begin by:

  • asking people about their symptoms
  • taking a medical history
  • conducting a physical examination of the affected joints

Blood tests may be used in the following stage of diagnosis to rule out other conditions such lupus and RA. These tests may involve the following:

  • a complete blood count
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • rheumatoid factor (RF)
  • anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP)
  • antinuclear antibody (ANA)

Inflammation in the body can be a sign of PMR, and CRP and ESR testing can detect it. A doctor is unlikely to diagnose PMR if both the ESR and CRP are normal. Some people with PMR, on the other hand, have normal or slightly elevated levels of both.

Bursitis, or inflammation surrounding the joints, can also be detected using an ultrasound or an MRI scan.

If a patient is suspected of having giant cell arteritis, the doctor will examine the arteries to see if they are inflamed, painful, or have a low pulse. To confirm the diagnosis, they may extract a small tissue sample, but this is not usually necessary.

What are some good questions to ask a doctor?

The following are some questions that people may want to ask a doctor concerning the process of diagnosing PMR:

  • Could these symptoms be due to another condition?
  • What tests will you perform to find out the cause?
  • Do I need to do anything to prepare for the tests?
  • How reliable are the test results?
  • If I have PMR, what are the best treatments?
  • Are there lifestyle changes I need to make to relieve the symptoms?

Conclusion

PMR produces widespread joint discomfort and stiffness, especially in bigger joints like the shoulders. It also causes a fever, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and weight loss. These symptoms are comparable to those of RA, lupus, Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia.

People who have PMR symptoms or conditions that can mimic PMR should see a doctor. This is especially important if they have just been bitten by a tick or have symptoms of giant cell arteritis. PMR, as well as other comparable disorders, can be easier to control if treated early.

Sources

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33291857/
  • https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Polymyalgia-Rheumatica
  • https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/polymyalgia-rheumatica/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diseases-that-mimic-polymyalgia-rheumatica
  • https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/polymyalgia-rheumatica
  • https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html

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Ear, Nose and Throat

What causes painful sores in the nose?

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It may be irritating to get painful sores in the nose, but they are generally nothing to worry about. Rarely, however, these sores can signal an underlying health issue.

This article discusses health conditions that lead to sores in the nose, the available medications, and when to see a doctor.

What do they look and feel like?

sores in the nose

On the skin within the nose, sores or ulcers can develop, and if a person can see them, they can resemble small pimples or scabs. They might be red , white, or yellow.

The skin inside the nose may be damaged or irritated by any number of causes, triggering these sores. While they are often unpleasant or painful, they are typically no cause for concern.

However, in some situations, a sore inside the nose may indicate an underlying health issue.

Causes

Find out below about the mild and more extreme problems that can lead to nasal sores and other signs to look out for.

Trauma

In response to trauma, sores in the nose typically develop, such as a scratch inside the nose, especially if an infection develops.

Picking the nose can irritate or break the skin, contributing to sores, and inhaling drugs through the nose can have the same effect. Nose sores and scabs, such as from a fall or a blow to the face, may also arise from more serious injuries.

An individual can also feel pain and swelling in the region when nose sores stem from trauma.

Infection

Within the nose, various infections can cause sores. Among them are nasal vestibulitis, a common bacterial infection.

As with nose piercings, picking the nose, plucking nose hair, or blowing the nose excessively may expose the body to bacteria that cause nasal vestibulitis.

Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the area can be among the symptoms.

Moreover, within the nose, the bacterial infection tuberculosis ( TB) can develop sores or ulcers.

TB-responsible bacteria can spread through the air. Some individuals with the infection have no symptoms, while others encounter:

  • a persistent cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • chest pain
  • coughing up blood or phlegm from deep within the lungs
  • weakness
  • extreme tiredness
  • a loss of appetite
  • chills, sometimes with a fever
  • night sweats

Lupus

Lupus is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and inflammation. From time to time , some people grow mouth and nose sores or ulcers.

Everyone with lupus has multiple symptoms, and they can occur anywhere in the body. Symptoms may include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • painful, swollen joints
  • swollen hands and feet
  • swelling around the eyes
  • headaches
  • chest pain
  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • sensitivity to fluorescent light

Vasculitis

A term that refers to inflammation in the blood vessels is vasculitis. It prevents the blood from supplying oxygen and nutrients efficiently, and it can develop in any of the blood vessels of the body.

The symptoms depend on the position of the blood vessels that are inflamed, but vasculitis can cause sores to form in the nose or mouth when those in the face are affected.

People may also experience:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • a fever
  • a loss of appetite and weight loss
  • a headache
  • weakness

Cancer

In rare cases , the outcome of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer is a sore inside the nose that does not go away.

Other symptoms can include:

  • a persistent stuffy nose
  • a persistent runny nose
  • sinus infections that keep returning or do not get better
  • headaches
  • sinus pain
  • face, eye, or ear pain
  • swelling in the face
  • teary eyes
  • vision loss
  • tooth pain or numbness
  • tooth loss

Treatment

The correct solution depends on the cause of the sores. In a couple of days, uninfected sores and scabs usually clear on their own. As they heal, it is necessary not to scratch or pick at the sores.

Doctors generally need to treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, and TB can be fatal without treatment — which usually involves taking a combination of drugs for about 6–9 months.

With no treatment, lupus is a long-term disease. The symptoms appear to come and go over time and the treatment requires taking medications to relieve the symptoms, such as steroids and immunosuppressants.

If the sores are caused by paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer, the recovery plan usually requires a combination of chemotherapy , radiation therapy, and surgery.

Symptom relief

Nasal sores often resolve on their own or with minimal treatment. In the meantime, the following can help ease discomfort:

  • taking over-the-counter pain relief medication
  • applying a soothing product, such as petroleum jelly
  • avoiding further irritation, such as picking at or rubbing the area

When to see a doctor

An individual may wish to see a doctor if nasal sores last more than a couple of days.

This is particularly relevant when there are other signs of a health problem, such as any symptoms of TB, lupus, or cancer.

Summary

The skin is sensitive inside the nose and is easy to harm or irritate. This may give rise to sores or scabs. These usually go away on their own.

It is important to talk to a doctor if the sores are persistent, and especially if any other symptoms are present.

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Allergy

Discolored skin patches: What you need to know

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Patches with discolored skin, including birthmarks, pigmentation defects, rashes, and infections, are normal and have several different causes. Some triggers are safe, but medical treatment would be needed for some.

There is melanin in the skin, which is the pigment that gives the skin its colour. Having more melanin makes the skin black, although lighter skin results in less of it. Melanin is also responsible for hair and eye color.

Patches with discolored skin are apparent because they vary from the usual skin tone of a person. They can be brighter, darker, red , gray, or blue, or a different color.

If care is desired, it is crucial for individuals with this condition to consider the cause of their discolored skin patches.

This article discusses the common causes of discolored skin patches and outlines which of them need treatment.

What causes discolored skin patches?

Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder that causes patches of lighter skin.
Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder that causes patches of lighter skin.

Discolored skin patches have many different causes, including:

  • birthmarks
  • skin pigmentation disorders
  • skin rashes
  • skin infections
  • skin cancers
  • medical conditions

Below, we look at each of these in more detail.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are discolouration spots that individuals get when they are born. Over time, some birthmark forms disappear, while others can be permanent.

Birthmarks are either pigmented or vascular. Vascular birthmarks are red and arise in the skin because of irregular blood vessels.

Types of vascular birthmark include:

  • Strawberry nevus. Also called a hemangioma, this is a common type of vascular birthmark. It appears as a red patch and is most common on the face, scalp, chest, and back. A strawberry nevus does not usually require treatment.
  • Salmon patch. Also called a nevus simplex, this flat red or pink patch of skin typically occurs on the neck or forehead. Up to 40 percent of all babies are born with this type of birthmark.
  • Port wine stain. This is a noticeable flat red or purple birthmark. Some port wine stains may require treatment, which might include laser treatment or cosmetic camouflage.

Pigmented birthmarks are generally white, brown, blue, or gray. They result from a problem with the melanin in the skin.

Types of pigmented birthmark include:

  • Mongolian blue spots. These are blue or gray patches that may be present on the back and buttocks at birth. Babies with darker skin are more likely to have these birthmarks. Mongolian blue spots often fade as the child grows.
  • Moles. These are black or brown spots that are usually harmless. However, it is best to see a doctor if a mole changes shape, size, or texture.
  • Café-au-lait spot. These appear as light brown skin patches on light skin or black coffee-colored patches on dark skin. Café-au-lait spots are often oval-shaped and may fade as the child grows.

Skin pigmentation disorders

This can mean a skin pigmentation condition if a person has lighter or darker skin patches. Skin pigmentation disorder forms include:

Melasma. This is a widespread skin disorder that commonly affects the facial skin and produces brown patches. It more often affects women than men. Melasma causes can include exposure to the sun and hormonal changes.

Vitiligo. Any part of the body may be affected by this disorder. It causes the melanin-producing cells, known as melanocytes, to stop functioning properly, which results in lighter skin patches. it can also affect the hair color of a person often. the precise cause of vitiligo is unclear, although it may be responsible for animmune system problem.

Hypopigmentation or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a transient rise or decrease in skin color, such as a blister or burn, after skin trauma.

Albinism. Not enough melanin is developed by individuals with albinism. This adds to the skin , hair, or eyes getting little to no pigment. Albinism is a genetic disorder , which means a person inherits from one or both of their parents a faulty gene.

Skin rashes

Patches with discolored skin can also be caused by certain forms of skin rash. These include:

Skin infections

Ringworm causes ring-shaped marks on the skin that are scaly, dry, or itchy.
Ringworm causes ring-shaped marks on the skin that are scaly, dry, or itchy.

Certain skin infections may also cause discoloration, such as:

  • Tinea versicolor. This is a fungal skin infection that can cause patches of skin to become lighter or darker. These patches usually develop slowly and can sometimes merge to form larger patches. Tinea versicolor tends to affect the trunk, neck, and upper arms.
  • Ringworm. Also known as tinea, this is a fungal skin infection that causes red or silver ring-shaped patches of skin. These patches may be scaly, dry, or itchy. Ringworm can appear on most parts of the body, including the scalp, groin, feet, hands, and nails.
  • Candidiasis of the skin. This is a fungal skin infection that causes red, itchy skin patches. It often occurs in areas where the skin folds, such as the armpits and groin.

Skin cancers

In rare cases, skin cancer can cause patches of discoloration. Types of skin cancer include:

  • Actinic keratosis. These are dry, scaly, pre-cancerous skin patches. Without treatment, they may progress to squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Basal cell carcinoma. These are flesh-colored, pearl-like, pink skin patches or bumps. Basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. These are red bumps, sores, or scaly patches, which may heal and then re-open. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer.
  • Melanoma. This cancer may develop in existing moles or appear as new dark spots. Melanomas are the most severe form of skin cancer, and early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, including the following, may cause discolored patches of skin:

  • Cyanosis. Insufficient oxygen in the blood can cause the skin and lips to appear blue or purple. Cyanosis that occurs suddenly could be a sign of a problem with the heart, lungs, or airways. This is a medical emergency, and a person should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Lupus. This is a complex autoimmune condition that may cause a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks.

Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes can also cause changes in the skin, such as:

  • yellow, reddish, or brown patches of skin
  • dark, velvety patches of skin
  • thick, hard patches of skin
  • blisters
  • shin spots

Other causes

If discolored skin patches appear suddenly and then disappear, there may be a simple explanation.

Causes of temporary patches or blotches of red skin include:

Causes of temporary patches of pale skin include:

  • dehydration
  • nausea
  • low blood sugar
  • cold weather conditions

When to see a doctor

It is safer to see a doctor if a fresh patch of discolored skin develops and does not go away. If a mole changes size, form, or texture, it is often important to seek medical attention.

Diagnosis

To diagnose discolored patches of skin, a doctor may ask the individual about:

  • pre-existing medical conditions
  • when and how quickly the discolored patch of skin appeared
  • whether the discolored patch of skin has changed since it first appeared
  • any related symptoms

Under the lamp, the doctor can examine the skin affected. Further testing, such as blood checks and a skin biopsy, may also be appropriate for them. The skin biopsy would entail the doctor taking and testing a small sample of skin under a microscope.

Treatment

A doctor diagnosing skin rash
A person should see a doctor if the discolored area of skin does not go away.

Treatment for skin that is discolored depends on the cause.

The doctor will prescribe the right form of treatment for that condition if a person has an underlying health condition. Treating the underlying disorder also resolves some skin complications associated with it.

If skin cancer is the root cause, it is important for the person to undergo care as soon as possible.

Generally, birthmarks and skin pigmentation conditions do not need rehabilitation. However, for aesthetic purposes, certain individuals may prefer to receive care. Laser therapy, chemical peels, and topical creams are among the treatment choices.

Lemon juice or castor oil can also help minimize the appearance of patches of skin that are discolored. Alternatively, to conceal the infected skin, individuals should use makeup.

Prevention

Not all sources of discolored patches of skin can be avoided.

However, the risk of melasma, sunburn, and skin cancer can be minimized by sun protection. Individuals should shield themselves from the sun through:

  • using sunscreen
  • staying out of the midday sun
  • covering up with loose clothing

Outlook

There are several potential causes of patches of discolored skin. Certain factors are not dangerous, such as birthmarks, and do not need medication. It is possible that some, such as skin cancer and cyanosis, may need urgent treatment.

If any new discolored patches of skin appear or if current moles change in any way , it is important to see a doctor. This helps make it easier for early intervention and recovery, which also translates to a healthier outlook.

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