Ulcerative colitis in the large intestine and the rectum is a long-term condition that causes inflammation. It may cause problems with the skin as well.
This article discusses how ulcerative colitis (UC), a form of inflammatory bowel disease, is linked to skin conditions (IBD).
During a flare-up, it also considers how to minimize skin conditions and when to see a doctor.
There are a variety of skin conditions associated with UC that are different. These are explored below.
1. Erythema nodosum
For individuals who also have UC, Erythema nodosum is the most common skin problem. Erythema nodosum may grow in up to 10 percent of people with UC.
Erythema nodosum on the arms or legs of an individual causes tender red nodules to appear. It is likely that these nodules appear like bruises.
In people with UC, during a flare-up, this skin rash tends to appear and go away while UC is in remission.
2. Pyoderma gangrenosum
Pyoderma gangrenosum is the second most common skin issue that can affect individuals with UC, according to this 2012 study.
This skin rash starts out on the shins, ankles, or arms as a cluster of blisters. It also spreads and deep ulcers can form. It may become contaminated if it is not kept clean.
Researchers conclude that an issue with the immune system that could be related to the cause of UC is causing this disease.
Psoriasis is a skin condition triggered by an immune system problem. It contributes to red, patchy skin, covered with dead skin cell build-up.
Psoriasis also affects many individuals with UC and other forms of IBD.
This 2015 study showed that the genes that cause IBD and those that cause psoriasis have certain genetic ties. In order to understand these relations fully, further research is required.
Hives are red raised patches which can occur anywhere on the body as a rash. Due to a reaction in the immune system, they form.
Individuals often react to the medicine they take for UC, which can cause chronic hives.
A study conducted in 2011 found a correlation between taking a drug to treat cystic acne (isotretinoin) and the development of UC. To understand this relation better, further research is needed.
6. Bowel-associated dermatosis-arthritis syndrome
In addition to other symptoms, bowel-associated dermatosis-arthritis syndrome (BADAS) is a condition in which tiny bumps develop on the upper chest and arms. Pustules may then form these bumps, causing discomfort. BADAS can also cause leg lesions.
Researchers do not completely understand the cause, but as a result of bacteria in the gut, they suspect it may lead to inflammation. Having IBD makes it more likely that BADAS will develop in an individual.
7. Pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans
Two skin disorders that are related are pyodermatitis vegetans and pyostomatitis vegetans.
Red pustules that burst and form scaly patches in the armpit or groin are caused by the former. Pustules in the mouth are involved in the latter.
The two conditions are typically categorized together and called pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans (PPV).
UC is associated with this disease, but it is rare. After a person has had UC for a few years, symptoms will usually occur. Sometimes, however, people are not diagnosed with UC until after PPV has been diagnosed by a doctor.
8. Sweet’s syndrome
Another disorder that is related to UC flare-ups is Sweet’s syndrome.
Small red or purple bumps on the skin grow into painful lesions when an individual has Sweet’s syndrome. Often on the upper limbs, face, and neck, they form.
Vitiligo is a skin disorder that destroys the pigment-producing cells in the skin. Vitiligo can result in anywhere on the body forming white patches.
Researchers think that an immune deficiency triggers vitiligo. Around 20 percent of people with vitiligo also have another immune deficiency, such as UC, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
10. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis
When small blood vessels under the skin become inflamed and die, leukocytoclastic vasculitis (hypersensitivity vasculitis) occurs. The inflammatory reaction leads to the development, called purpura, of purple spots on the skin of the legs or ankles.
The disorder results from inflammation and is associated with flare-ups of UC. When UC is in remission, leukocytoclastic vasculitis usually goes away.
Links between UC and skin rashes
UC can be an inflammatory disorder that is painful and unpleasant, affecting both the large intestine and the rectum.
When an individual has UC, the lining of their colon produces tiny ulcers. This can create pus and bleed.
UC’s key signs are:
- ongoing problems with diarrhea
- blood, mucus, or pus in stools
- the need to pass stool often
- extreme tiredness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
Ulcerative colitis flare-ups
While UC is a long-term illness, a person with UC can be without symptoms for weeks or months. This is called remission.
Periods of remission may be followed by flare-ups, where the person experiences many UC symptoms.
An individual with UC can experience symptoms during a flare-up, in addition to those that affect the digestive system. They include:
- rashes or patches of red, swollen skin
- swollen or painful joints
- mouth ulcers
- red, irritated eyes
Why do skin rashes appear during flare-ups?
The inflammation that induces UC in the body can affect the skin as well. This may contribute to skin rashes that are swollen and painful.
Skin issues affect up to 15 percent of people with IBD, which includes people with UC, according to a 2015 survey.
Skin problems can also be caused by the medicine a person might take to manage their UC symptoms.
Reducing skin problems during a flare-up
People with UC often encounter skin problems during flare-ups, so treating UC itself is the best way to treat skin conditions related to UC.
A doctor will help find the right methods for their symptoms and lifestyle for a person with UC.
The following can help to decrease skin problems when flare-ups happen:
- Use of corticosteroids to decrease inflammation
- Eating a balanced diet to support healthy skin
- To keep the infected skin clean to minimize the risk of infection,
- covering the affected area with bandages
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers
When to see your physician
It is a good idea to consult with a doctor and get a correct diagnosis and the right treatment if a skin complaint is particularly troublesome.
It is a good idea to speak to a doctor about the best way to treat skin problems if they recur or get worse over time.
They may also assist a person with UC to find ways of treating their condition as a whole.
- Crockett, S. D., Porter, C. Q., Martin, C. F., Sandler, R. S., & Kappelman, M. D. (2011, September 1). Isotretinoin use and the risk of inflammatory bowel disease: A case control study. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 105(9), 1986–1993
- Fiorino, G., & Omodei P. D. (2015, September 1). Psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease: Two sides of the same coin? Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, 9(9), 697–698 (LINK)
- 10 rashes caused by ulcerative colitis (LINK)
- Huang, B. L., Chandra, S., & Shih, D. Q. (2012, February 6). Skin manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 3(13)
- Scientists implicate gene in vitiligo and other autoimmune diseases. (2007, April 10)
- Vavricka, S. R., Schoepfer, A., Scharl, M., Lakatos, P. L., Navarini, A., & Rogler, G. (2015, August). Extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 21(8), 1982–1992
Is there a link between IBD and microplastics?
In a recent small-scale investigation, researchers discovered a link between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and higher levels of microplastics in feces. The results were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The study, however, does not prove that microplastics cause IBD. More research is needed to confirm the findings and then seek an explanation for the link.
IBD is a broad term that refers to a variety of gastrointestinal disorders marked by inflammation. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most frequent kinds.
Diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, and exhaustion are all symptoms of IBD.
Researchers aren’t sure what causes IBD, but they believe it starts when a person who is genetically predisposed to the disease is exposed to a specific trigger. More research is needed to determine how important environmental triggers are.
IBD and microplastics
The researchers wanted to discover if there was a link between microplastics and IBD in this new study. Microplastics are present in people’s bodies throughout their lives, yet the health repercussions are unknown.
“We urgently need to know more about the health consequences of microplastics since they are everywhere—including in our drinking water,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director of Public Health, Environment, and Social Determinants of Health.
“Microplastics in drinking water do not appear to constitute a health danger at current levels, based on the limited knowledge we have.” However, we need to learn more. We must also halt the global surge of plastic pollution.”
The current study’s corresponding author is Dr. Yan Zhang. He works at Nanjing University’s School of Environment’s State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, where he previously discovered that microplastics accumulate in the liver, kidney, and intestine in animal models.
He also discovered that the particle size of the microplastics had a significant impact on the accumulation.
“Compelling evidence suggests that microplastics primarily collect in the guts of many species and induce intestinal inflammation and metabolic disturbance,” the researcher told Medical News Today. “Microplastics will inevitably come into contact with humans.”
“Estimating the exposure levels and loads of microplastics in people is crucial for assessing the health risk of microplastics.” However, accurate evidence on the effects of microplastics on humans is still unavailable. Furthermore, the actual health danger of human exposure to microplastics has long been a source of worry.
Because microplastics are routinely ingested through the gut, the researchers wanted to see if there was a link between microplastics and IBD.
They did this by examining fecal samples from study participants. The researchers gathered 52 persons with IBD and 50 people who were otherwise healthy but did not have IBD.
The participants answered questions on the foods and beverages they consume, their working and living conditions over the past year, the state of their IBD, and their demographic characteristics on a questionnaire.
The scientists then looked at the feces samples to see how much and what kind of microplastics were present.
Microplastics linked to IBD
They discovered that those with IBD had considerably more microplastic in their stools than those who were healthy.
Further research revealed a link between the severity of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and the number of microplastics present.
The researchers also discovered that persons who had more microplastic in their stool samples drank more bottled water, ate more takeout food, and were exposed to more dust where they lived or worked.
“For the first time, this study reveals that there is a significant difference in the concentration of microplastics in feces from IBD patients and healthy people. Our study also indicates that the characteristics of fecal microplastics are useful to estimate the gut exposure of microplastics.”
– Dr. Yan Zhang
“It’s difficult to say whether microplastics play a role in the development of IBD because it’s a complex systemic disease with an unknown etiology.” People with IBD are more likely to retain microplastics, we suspect.”
The study had flaws as well, the most significant of which was its small size. Before scientists can reach more solid findings, they must perform much larger investigations.
“The concentration of [microplastics] in feces found in this study cannot directly match the concentration of [microplastics] in the gastrointestinal system or in the human body,” the study authors write.
To put it another way, just though people with IBD excrete more microplastic doesn’t mean they have more microplastic in their bodies.
Colitis: What you need to know
Colitis is an inflammation of the colon’s lining. Colitis can be caused by a variety of causes. A person suffering from colitis will have abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea.
Colitis people may have either modest chronic pain or acute and abrupt pain. There are various forms of colitis, and many of them have symptoms that overlap.
This page discusses colitis, its various kinds, causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What is colitis?
Colitis is an inflammation of the lining of the colon. Inflammation of the large intestine can occur for a variety of reasons. Infection, for example, is one of the most common causes.
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
The two most common kinds of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Colitis is frequently chronic, and there is no cure. A person can, however, receive therapy for the condition and effectively manage it.
Types of colitis
Colitis is classified into several types. These are some examples:
- ulcerative colitis
- pseudomembranous colitis
- microscopic colitis
- ischemic colitis
- cytomegalovirus colitis
- allergic colitis in infants
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the large intestine (the colon or large bowel) and the rectum.
Small sores or ulcers can form on the colon’s lining, causing it to bleed and create pus.
Ulcerative colitis symptoms may include:
- bleeding from the rectum
- sores on the skin
- blood and pus in the stool
- delayed growth in children
- pain in the abdomen
- weight loss
- joint pain
Doctors classify ulcerative colitis as an autoimmune condition.
According to research, an unusual immune response occurs. This response is produced by a bacterial contact in the colon and the body’s immune system, which subsequently destroys the colon’s tissue. Inflammation causes from this attack.
It is unclear what causes the immune system to act in this manner. Experts believe that a number of factors, including genetics and environmental circumstances, may play a role.
Medication, such as the following, may be prescribed as part of the treatment.
- biologic therapies, such as infliximab (Remicade)
Flare-ups are normally treatable at home, but severe flare-ups may necessitate hospitalization.
In severe flares, a person may require surgery to remove parts of their colon.
The colon becomes inflamed in pseudomembranous colitis due to an overgrowth of the bacteria Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile). This can happen if a person has a weaker immune system or if there is an imbalance in gut bacteria as a result of recent antibiotic treatment.
Pseudomembranous colitis symptoms include:
- bloody stools
- urge to have a bowel movement
- frequent watery diarrhea
- abdominal cramps
An overgrowth of C. difficile bacteria is frequently caused by a disruption in normal gut flora after a course of antibiotics. Certain strains of C. difficile are drug resistant, have the ability to overgrow, and can cause inflammation and bleeding.
A person with this condition must discontinue use of any drugs that are causing the problem. Vancomycin or fidaxomicin, for example, may be prescribed by a doctor (Dificid).
The individual may also be given intravenous (IV) fluids. Doctors may need to conduct a colectomy in severe situations.
Fecal microbiota transplant is a novel therapy option for reoccurring illnesses.
Microscopic colitis is a condition in which the immune system fails, resulting in inflammation of the colon lining.
The condition can affect people of any age, but it is more common in women and older adults.
Symptoms could include:
- urgent need to have bowel movement
- weight loss
- cramping and pain in the abdomen
- persistent watery diarrhea
- nighttime diarrhea
- bloating and gas
The exact cause of microscopic colitis is unknown, but experts suspect it is caused by a combination of genetics and unusual immune system responses.
Some medications might cause microscopic colitis, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about what you ‘re taking.
The following medications may cause this type of colitis:
- proton pump inhibitors
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
For microscopic colitis, doctors may give the following medications:
- antidiarrheal medications
- bile acid binders
Ischemic colitis is caused by a reduction in colon blood flow.
It’s usually associated with older people who have underlying cardiovascular problems, according to experts. Young people, on the other hand, can develop the condition.
Among the signs and symptoms are:
- tender stomach
- pain after eating
- an urgent need for a bowel movement
- pain and cramping, typically on the left side of the abdomen
- bloody diarrhea
Reduced blood flow to the colon causes ischemic colitis. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including hardened arteries in people suffering from peripheral vascular disease or coronary artery disease.
Reduced blood flow can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including:
- conditions that affect the blood, such as anemia
- use of methamphetamines or cocaine
- bowel obstructions due to hernias, tumors, or scar tissue
- surgical procedures that involve the colon, heart, or blood vessels
- low blood pressure
- blood clots in the arteries that lead to the colon
Ischemic colitis treatment is determined on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, a doctor may prescribe:
- medication to relieve pain
- broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent infection
- IV fluid to prevent dehydration
A doctor may also address any underlying disorders that are causing the condition. They may advise against taking drugs that cause blood vessel narrowing.
A doctor will treat the condition as an emergency if it is severe or acute. They could:
- prescribe medications to widen narrowed arteries or treat blood clots
- recommend surgery
Approximately 20% of people with ischemic colitis require surgery.
The human herpesvirus family comprises cytomegalovirus (CMV) colitis.
CMV colitis is particularly common in people who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. It can, however, occur in healthy people who do not have a compromised immune system. The average age of these people is 68 years.
CMV colitis may not cause any symptoms in some people, or it may be a self-limited disease that goes away on its own.
Other people with CMV colitis, on the other hand, may experience nonspecific symptoms such as:
- rectal bleeding
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
CMV colitis is particularly common in people who are immunocompromised, such as those who have:
Further study has discovered a number of risk factors for CMV colitis in people who have normal immune responses, generally known as immunocompetent people. These are some of the risk factors:
- renal diseases
- people on hemodialysis
- neurological disorders
- people in an intensive care unit
Antiviral medications may not be necessary for the majority of people with CMV colitis who are immunocompetent.
Doctors may consider antiviral medication in immunocompetent people based on their age and medical history. Antiviral medicines may be used to treat CMV colitis, but more research is needed to see if they are successful.
Allergic colitis in infants
When a baby’s immune system overreacts to the proteins in cow’s milk, allergic colitis can develop. Other allergies, such as soy, can cause the same reaction. Inflammation of the colon occurs as a result of this reaction.
Allergic colitis affects approximately 2%–3% of infants.
Some babies are far more sensitive to milk protein than others, resulting in more severe symptoms.
Allergic colitis can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- flecks or streaks of blood in the stool
- difficulty consoling
- diarrhea and vomiting
- other signs of allergies, such as nasal congestion or eczema
- mucus in the stools
A baby’s first year of life includes a time of reflux, or spitting up of food. Reflux may be a problem for babies with allergic colitis.
Allergic colitis is caused by the mother’s immune system changing throughout pregnancy, as well as the immaturity of the baby’s immune system. It is unknown, however, why some babies have the condition while others do not.
When an infant gets blood in their stool, it is usually due to a milk allergy, which may be treated.
Doctors may place breastfeeding people on a dairy-free diet. Breast milk can take up to 72 hours to become milk protein-free. People can also feed their babies a hypoallergenic formula.
Reflux may improve as a result of treating colitis, although some reflux may not be related to the allergic process.
Colitis is a condition in which the lining of the colon or large intestine becomes inflamed. The colon’s lining can become inflamed for a variety of reasons. Infection is the most common cause of colitis. Chronic colitis is most commonly caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The symptoms of several types of colitis overlap. Inflammation of the intestinal lining is present in all forms of colitis.
Depending on the type and severity of colitis, many treatments are available.
What you should know about the IBS and colon cancer connection
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colon cancer share some symptoms in common, however IBS does not put a person at an increased risk of colon cancer.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that causes stomach discomfort and other symptoms. The big intestine, often known as the colon, is affected by this condition.
Colon cancer affects the same region as IBS, and in some people, it can cause many of the same symptoms.
The similarities and differences between IBS and colon cancer symptoms are discussed in this article.
Colon cancer symptoms
Symptoms of colon cancer may not always be caused immediately. The onset of symptoms might take several years. Several illnesses, according to the American Cancer Society, can cause symptoms that are similar to colon cancer and should be checked out during diagnosis.
According to the article, the following are some of the most prevalent symptoms of colon cancer:
- unexplained weight loss
- weakness or fatigue
- rectal bleeding bright red blood
- dark brown or black blood in stool
- abdominal pain or cramping
- change in bowel habits, including a narrowing of the stool, diarrhea, or constipation that lasts for more than just a few days
- feeling a need to pass a bowel movement without relief
One or more symptoms may be present in people who have IBS. The following are some of the most prevalent IBS symptoms:
- abdominal pain, often related to bowel movements
- changes in bowel movements, which can include constipation, diarrhea, or possibly both
Around the time of their period, those who were designated female at birth may notice an increase in the severity of their symptoms.
IBS can also cause the following symptoms:
- feeling as though a bowel movement is not finished
- whitish mucus in stool
Despite the fact that IBS might be uncomfortable, it does not cause additional gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues.
Comparison table of symptoms
Although IBS and colon cancer have certain symptoms, there are several important distinctions to be aware of. The table below lists both colon cancer and IBS symptoms, as well as symptoms specific to each condition.
|excess gas or bloating||X||X|
|pain or cramps in abdomen associated with bowel movements||X||X|
|feeling of incomplete bowel movement||X||X|
|changes in bowel movements and habits lasting more than a few days||X||X|
|unexplained weight loss||X|
|bleeding from rectum||X|
|stool appears narrow||X|
|dark stool or blood in stool||X|
|a whitish mucus appears in stool||X|
Connection between IBS and colon cancer
IBS can cause stomach pain and discomfort. It does not, however, raise the risk of colon cancer since it does not cause inflammation or other harm to the GI tract.
Researchers found similar results in a 2010 trial analysis of over 900 people. They discovered that people with suspected IBS had the same risk of cancer as those who had normal bowel movements.
To diagnose IBS, a doctor may not need to do diagnostic tests. If they suspect anything more severe, such as colon cancer, they may arrange testing.
A person’s doctor will almost certainly undertake a physical examination and ask numerous questions regarding their:
- medical history
- current symptoms
- family history of bowel issues
A doctor must generally assess a person’s symptoms to diagnose IBS, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). A doctor may diagnose IBS if a person has two or more of the following symptoms in addition to stomach pain:
- frequency of bowel movements change
- changes in stool appearance
- pain related to bowel movements
A doctor may also consider the length of time that symptoms have been present. According to the NIDDK, a clinician can diagnose IBS if symptoms have been present for at least 6 months and occur at least once a week for at least 3 months.
A doctor would most likely inquire about any other possible symptoms during an initial examination and inquiry. Blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, weight loss, or anemia might all be signs of a more serious condition.
If a doctor feels that another condition is causing the symptoms, extra diagnostic testing will almost certainly be ordered. They may request the following tests:
- protein and gene testing
- CT or CAT scan
Making a medical appointment
Pain, constipation, and other symptoms that occur on a regular basis might not always need a trip to the doctor. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, a person should consult a medical expert.
A doctor will likely examine a patient’s age, general health, family history of colon cancer, and other cancer risk factors. They may recommend a CT scan or a colonoscopy if they suspect a person’s symptoms are cancer-related.
Because the symptoms of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are so similar, a doctor will most likely seek to rule out IBD. IBD is an inflammatory disease that causes protracted periods of inflammation, putting a person at a higher risk of developing cancer. Colon cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States.
The symptoms of IBS and colon cancer are quite similar. However, a person with colon cancer may have unexplained weight loss, blood in their stool, or rectum hemorrhage, which are not common in IBS.
Despite having comparable symptoms, IBS does not increase the risk of colon cancer. If a person has chronic IBS symptoms, they should consult with their doctor to discover the actual cause of the symptoms and treatment options.