From rashes to break outs, skin complaints associated with fibromyalgia are numerous. While most of these skin problems are not health threats, they can be very annoying. If you suffer from fibromyalgia and notice that you are having skin problems, consult with your health care provider. He may be able to provide you with appropriate treatment.
Pretty much all of us have suffered from some type of skin complaint at some point in our lives. Many of us were acne sufferers as teenagers and everyone suffers from dry or itchy skin at one time or another. Though skin problems can be difficult to treat and very frustrating, most of the time we can deal with them.
However, fibromyalgia sufferers seem to battle an unfair share of skin problems. In fact, it is thought that between 70% and 80% of people with fibromyalgia suffer from skin problems associated with their illness. On top of these skin problems, these complaints often make fibromyalgia symptoms even worse. Dry itchy skin can make sleeping difficult, and increase pain and fatigue. Skin problems can also make it hard to choose clothes to wear, to eat certain foods, or just carry on with daily life.
Types of Skin Complaints Seen in Fibromyalgia
There are a number of different types of skin problems that manifest themselves in fibromyalgia. Many of them occur alongside one another or become chronic problems.
Dry Skin: Many fibromyalgia sufferers are plagued with chronically dry cracked skin. This dry flaky skin can appear anywhere on the body, but it particularly affects the hands and fingers. Sometimes this dry skin will begin to peel and cause pain and discomfort.
Itchy Skin: Itchy skin is usually one of the most common skin complaints among fibromyalgia patients. Many people are plagued with itchy skin rashes all over the body. Sometimes, over-scratching of the skin can lead to the development of sores or infection.
Mottled Skin: The skin of fibromyalgia sufferers often begins to change color, appearance, or tone. Dark spots can appear all over the body, particularly on the inside of the forearms and thighs. Exposure to the sun can darken these spots or causes them to become red and swollen.
Tender Skin: A lot of fibromyalgia sufferers report that their skin actually hurts when it is touched. Referred to as allodynia, this sensitive skin can cause numerous problems, from redness and swelling, to bruising and scarring. This tender skin often prevents fibromyalgia sufferers from participating in daily life.
Rashes: A rash often develops on the body as a result of dry skin and itching. These skin rashes appear as raised bumps on the skin, and can often be scaly to the touch.
Causes of Skin Problems
The causes of skin problems in fibromyalgia are still a mystery to doctors, scientists, and researchers. No one is really sure why the skin is so badly affected by the illness.
Tender skin (allodynia) may be a direct result of a dysfunction in the brain’s central nervous system. Fibromyalgia prevents the brain from reading pain signals correctly, and this may cause the skin to feel sore or tender to the touch.
Itchiness may also be a result of pain signals being misunderstood by the brain. Receptors under the skin are responsible for sending messages about what we are feeling to the brain.
Sometimes these receptors don’t know how to interpret certain sensory messages and, as a result, our skin feels itchy. Fibromyalgia sufferers may feel more itchy than usual because of the fact that there are already existing problems with the brain’s ability to interpret pain signals.
Skin discoloration may be the result of an overactive pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland is responsible for producing melanocyte-stimulating hormone. This hormone produces melanin in the body, which creates pigment in the eyes, skin, and hair. For some reason, there appears to be too much melanin in the skin of fibromyalgia sufferers.
Treatment for Skin Problems
There are numerous treatments available to help ease the side effects associated with many of the skin disorders caused by fibromyalgia. You should speak with your health care provider about your symptoms in order to find the treatment that’s right for you.
- heavy creams and moisturizers are good for relieving dry, cracked skin. After taking a warm bath, these creams should be applied generously to all affected areas.
- prescription creams containing corticosteroids are available for particularly troublesome dry skin
- mottled skin can be treated using bleaching creams or ultraviolet light therapies