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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

Pain and Sjögren's

Posted on Thu, Aug 15, 2019

Pain and Sjögrens Chronic pain is one of the most common symptoms associated with Sjögren’s. I have the interesting position of working as a healthcare provider in the field of comprehensive pain medicine as well as being a Sjögren’s sufferer. My role working as a Physician Assistant and Chiropractor is to help patients manage their pain. In our practice, we treat a variety of diverse conditions with a continuum ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to abdominal pain and everything in between. While this can be a challenging area of medicine to practice, it is also quite rewarding to assist others in living a more enhanced quality of life.

Prior to being diagnosed with Sjögren’s, I rarely experienced pain. Recently, I was reminiscing back to a time not many years ago in which I only used ibuprofen once or twice over several years’ time. My own personal struggle with Sjögren’s causes me to endure discomfort in various areas of my body every day. I experience joint pain, especially in my knees and fingers. The nerve sensations in my muscles are also very discomforting. Additionally, only since the development of Sjögren’s, I suffer from debilitating pelvic pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications ibuprofen and Celebrex seem to help the greatest for my pain. Heat is also quite effective. When I make more anti-inflammatory diet choices, my pain is absolutely better. This includes avoiding excessive sugars, flour, dairy, red meat as well as processed and fried substances. When I regularly take vitamin D and eat fresh cherries the pain also improves. If I have poor stress management and sleeping habits, my pain worsens. Finding motivation for regular exercise can be difficult as I also fight significant fatigue, but I know that movement is necessary to keep my joints and muscles mobile. I also use a TENS unit from time to time as well as over the counter lidocaine products.

It is fulfilling to assist in improving the quality of life of others that suffer from chronic pain. This is especially meaningful being that I endure pain daily. I encourage anyone experiencing chronic pain to seek out a comprehensive pain management specialist for evaluation.

by Rebecca Hosey, DC, MSPAS, PA-C

Dr. Rebecca Hosey is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Chiropractor. She has practiced interventional pain medicine for many years and was diagnosed with Sjögren’s in 2015.

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

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Topics: Symptoms, Sjogren's, coping with sjogren's, Chronic Pain, Vitamin D, Natural Treatments

NIH Hosts Dietary Supplement Database

Posted on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

Did you know that the National Institutes of Health has a database that allows individuals to search the labels of dietary supplements?

SSF_Dietary_SupplementsThe Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) is a joint project of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Considering the number of Sjögren’s patients who currently take dietary supplements to aid in the management of the disease, the DSLD could prove to be a very useful tool. An individual can search products, brands and ingredients. This can allow them to review the suggested use of a particular supplement, calories and daily values as well as search other brands and combinations that might be available.

For instance, if a patient is taking fish oil and vitamin D, they could find a combination supplement rather than two separate supplements. This can result in easier maintenance of supplements and cost effectiveness for the patient.

Remember that just because an over-the-counter product is natural, this does not make it safe or appropriate. The SSF recommends that you should always discuss natural remedies with your doctor.

Click here to learn more about Sjögren’s and an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Click here to learn more about the  NIH Dietary Supplement Database This information was provided by the NIH DSLD web page. 

Topics: Diet, Nutrition, Sjogren's, Treatment, coping with sjogren's, Vitamin D, Natural Treatments, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Ask the Doctor: Sjogren’s and the Benefits of Vitamin D

Posted on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

Q. I keep reading about the use of vitamin D with autoimmune diseases. How important is it for Sjögren’s patients? 

A. Vitamin D is important in bone and cartilage homeostasis. New evidence indicates that vitamin D may have extraskeletal benefits on several systems including the immune system. Autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus (SLE), and Sjögren’s have been associated in a few studies with low vitamin D levels. However, the significance of low vitamin D levels in disease pathogenesis and prevention is unclear.

What are the sources of vitamin D? Vitamin D has two precursors, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is synthesized mainly in the skin by the action of ultraviolet light. Vitamins D2 and D3 are found in very few dietary sources, such as fish oils or fortified dairy products, as well as supplements.

SSF_Blog

Recommendations regarding desirable levels are based upon evidence related to bone health. Some controversy exists, but experts such as the International Osteoporosis Foundation suggest that a minimum level of 30 ng/mL is necessary to decrease the risk of falls and fracture. 

Vitamin D deficiency is very prevalent in the general population and some studies indicate a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in certain autoimmune diseases. However, these studies have not been conclusive. As an example, in SLE patients, recent studies have indicated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency to range between 38% and 96%. The wide variation can be attributed to many factors, such as the age of the patients recruited, geographic location, season at the time of the study, ethnicity, medications used and the accuracy of the vitamin D assay method used.

In Sjögren’s, few small trials have been performed to assess the prevalence of low vitamin D levels and the association with disease severity. No conclusive data has been assembled to indicate that subjects with Sjögren’s have lower vitamin D levels than healthy subjects, or to suggest a pathogenic relationship between lack of vitamin D and development of disease.

Patients with Sjögren’s can be prone to vitamin D deficiency. Photosensitivity, where exposure to ultraviolet light triggers a rash is prevented by avoiding exposure to sunlight, could contribute to lower levels of vitamin D. Furthermore, certain medications may aggravate vitamin D deficiency. Chronic corticosteroid and hydroxychloroquine use are suspected to affect vitamin D concentration and activity respectively. 

In summary, although there are no guidelines regarding optimal vitamin D levels for extraskeletal and immune system health, it would be reasonable to recommend that patients be screened for vitamin D deficiency and treated with supplementation. The American College of Rheumatology recommends a daily intake of 800–1000 IU per day of vitamin D in patients on treatment with steroids.

by Stamatina Danielides, MD

 This information was first printed in the The Moisture Seeker, SSF's patient newsletter for members. 

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Topics: sun and sjogren's, Diet, Nutrition, Sjogren's, Sun Sensitivity, Vitamin D, Lupus

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