10 Skin Rashes Linked to Ulcerative Colitis
Inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), are chronic conditions that affect the digestive tract. While inflammation is the most common symptom associated with these diseases, some patients with Crohn’s and UC also experience skin issues, including painful skin rashes. In fact, over 15% of all individuals with different types of inflammatory bowel diseases are also affected by skin issues. While some skin rashes may be associated with Crohn’s or UC-related inflammation within the body, others may derive from the medications used to treat UC. 10 of the most common skin rashes linked to UC include the following:
Erythema nodosum is the most common type of skin issue among individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases. It is a rash that consists of painful red bumps found on the skin of the arms or legs. Erythema nodosum affects around 10% of individuals with UC and it tends to affect more women than it does men. Since this condition tends to develop when UC is active, such as during a flare-up, keeping the disease under control can help to disperse of it.
Treatment options for the erythema nodosum generally include the use of pain medications, steroids, and potassium iodide solution. “A cool compress can also help alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation,” said Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Pyoderma gangrenosum is the second most common type of skin issue among individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases. It is a rash that is composed of red or purple bumps, which can spread quickly and combine to form deep, painful ulcers. These ulcers can appear anywhere – on the feet, arms, stomach, etc. If they are not kept clean, they can become infected.
Pyoderma gangrenosum affects over 2% of individuals with UC and unlike erythema nodosum, it often occurs when UC is not active. Treatment options generally include the use of anti-inflammatory creams, steroid ointments, high doses of corticosteroids, and immunosuppressant drugs.
Sweet’s syndrome is a rare type of skin condition that derives from a complication linked to UC. It is characterized by small and painful skin lesions that can spread to form clusters. They can develop on the face, neck, arms, legs, or chest. Sweet’s syndrome tends to develop with active UC flare-ups and it is typically treated with corticosteroids. Although the skin lesions may go away on their own, recurrence is quite common and it can result in scarring.
Pyoderma vegetans is a rare type of skin condition that appears as a rash with red blisters. It can be found on the skin under the arms or surrounding the groin. If the blisters rupture, they can form raised patches on the skin (plaques). Pyoderma vegetans is associated with a similar skin condition known as pyostomatitis vegetans. Together, these two conditions are known as pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans (PPV). Since PPV is closely associated with UC, treating the disease itself can help to treat pyoderma vegetans.
Read on to learn more about 6 other skin conditions that can affect people living with ulcerative colitis.