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Ask the Doctor: Skin Rashes and Sjögren's

Posted on Mon, Sep 23, 2019

Skin Rashes and Sjögrens

Skin rashes most certainly occur in the setting of Sjögren’s. As opposed to many of the other autoimmune skin rashes that I see in my autoimmune dermatology clinic, there are no rashes that are specific for Sjögren’s. In other words, I cannot look at a rash in a Sjögren’s patient and immediately tell them that they have Sjögren’s. In comparison, I can often look at a lupus rash and tell the patient they have underlying lupus. That being said, Sjögren’s patients exhibit a variety of skin rashes that are important to recognize and know when to see a board-certified dermatologist.

By and far the most common skin conditions associated with Sjögren’s are xerosis, or clinically dry skin, and eczematous dermatitis. These are caused primarily by barrier dysfunction of the skin. Gentle skin care practices and liberal moisturizers are the best way to prevent these common skin eruptions. When caring for your skin you should take no more than one short, lukewarm shower per day. You should remain in the shower for less than 10 minutes. Soaps like Dove sensitive and VanicreamTM, can be utilized as they will not strip your skin. If a wash cloth is used while bathing, it should be limited to areas that give off body odor like the armpits, genital, and buttock areas, in order to not disrupt the skin barrier. Immediately after getting out of the shower, you should pat dry and then apply a moisturizer. Ointments are the best moisturizers followed by creams. Lotions are not typically moisturizing enough for patients with Sjögren’s. The best ointments are Vaseline® or Aquaphor®. If an ointment is too greasy for your taste, cream moisturizers like CeraVe®, VanicreamTM, Eucerin®, or Aveeno®can be used. For itchy skin, Sarna Original lotion can give immediate relief especially when stored in the refrigerator. If scaly, dry skin is present, utilizing moisturizers with lactic acid, urea, or salicylic acid can be used. Examples include: AmLactin®, CeraVe® SA, and Eucerin® Roughness Relief. If your rash is not responding to moisturizers and gentle skin care practices, a prescription corticosteroid cream or a steroid-sparing anti-inflammatory cream may need to be prescribed by your physician.

If you develop a purple-to-red rash that does not lighten, or blanch, with pressure, ulcerations of the skin, or a purple net pattern on your skin, this should prompt you to see a dermatologist for evaluation. Rashes that are associated with purpura (blood spots) can represent vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels. Although these rashes are not as common as the ones discussed above, they are important to recognize in Sjögren’s patients and should be seen quickly by a dermatologist.

Natalie Wright, MD, FAAD

This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's member newsletter.

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Topics: Sjogren's, Treatment, Dry Skin, Flare,, Sun Sensitivity, Skin Rashes, Vitamin D, Lupus, Vasculitis

Managing Sjögren’s Vasculitis

Posted on Sun, Oct 30, 2016

Ask the Expert:
“How can I manage my vasculitis so that it doesn’t become too severe?”

Vasculitis usually manifests with purplish skin lesions on the legs and sometimes the trunk. It is usually associated with high levels of gammaglobulin in the serum. The skin may become easily irritated and even break down in areas where numerous lesions develop. The skin around the ankles is most susceptible. Skin break-down and ulcerations may form.

Although severe vasculitis from Sjögren’s may require hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), oral corticosteroids and immunosuppressive medications, milder forms can be managed with simple conservative measures.

TMS October 2016.pngSkin breakdown occurs with greater frequency when there is fluid accumulation around the ankles so measures that minimize edema (excess fluid accumulation) in the legs can be helpful. Such measures include elevation of the legs and the use of support hose. When sitting, your legs should be propped up on a chair and not left dangling for too long. Support hose to control edema should be of the above-knee variety. Hose that bunch up below the knee may actually act like a tourniquet and impede blood flow in the legs making edema worse.

Mild trauma to the skin of the legs can also favor skin ulceration so wearing pants may provide an extra layer of protection. Edema can also be controlled with diuretics. Some patients with vasculitis may benefit from low dose aspirin to keep the blood vessels open.

Of course these conservative measures should also be applied in instances when immunosuppressive therapy is needed. Consult with your doctor if diuretic therapy or low dose aspirin is right for you.

by Herbert S. B. Baraf, MD, FACP, MACR

This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's member newsletter.

Take Control of Your Health!  Receive our Newsletter by Becoming an SSF Member

Topics: Plaquenil, Sjogren's, Treatment, Dry Skin, Immunosuppressant, Ask the Expert, Hydroxychloroquine, Vasculitis

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