Many people with fibromyalgia ask if their skin conditions are caused by fibromyalgia. The answer can be confusing. It has been reported that approximately 50-80% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia also suffer with skin issues. Some of the common skin problems associated with people suffering from fibromyalgia are; dry skin, itchy skin, skin discoloration, hives, rashes with either redness alone or raised bumps, psoriasis or rosacea.
Many patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia also have a slew of other co-morbid diagnoses that overlap; skin conditions can be included in this category. In fact, those people who have been diagnosed with lupus or psoriasis are more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
An article found on belmarrahealth.com shows there seems to be a connection with nerve involvement and skin. In a study, researchers at Albany Medical College found that in women with fibromyalgia, there was the presence of peripheral neurovascular pathology which means there were excessive nerve fibers that were found in the palms of the hands versus the brain which is one explanation of deep tissue pain and skin tenderness that some patients with fibromyalgia experience. Some scientists have also discovered nervous system function among blood vessels.
So based on this, there is an obvious connection between the nervous system and the skin. And the skin is actually a part of the immune system, the immune system is designed to protect our bodies from foreign things and if something tries to affect this, our bodies begin to mount a defense. In some cases, fibromyalgia can cause an immune response which is the way a person’s body responds to protect itself.
In an article on fibro daze it states that a Swedish research group discovered that there are 4 times more mast cells in the tissue of some fibromyalgia patients. The immune system generates mast cells, so people who have an elevated mast cell count, their bodies can elicit an immune response that leads to some of these painful skin reactions.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is a difficult process and is considered a diagnosis of elimination. Many patients who have now been diagnosed with fibromyalgia have gone through many tests over the course of their diagnosing process to eliminate conditions and come to a final conclusion. With most patients, testing includes lots of blood work and the results of those have shown inflammatory markers more elevated in patients with fibromyalgia which can also be a factor in elevated skin sensitivity in some patients.
Not only are these skin conditions irritating, they can cause a disruption in a person’s daily life, especially in the cases of more advanced or difficult skin conditions. For example, in some patients they experience benign skin itching with no other symptoms, and this can actually be the brains response to pain. In other patients more severe skin conditions are more troublesome, these skin conditions can cause itching, pain and burning which can also lead to sleep disturbances due to these symptoms as well as causing significant skin tenderness and sensitivity. If symptoms are not improved by OTC medications or natural methods, or if you are unsure of what may be occurring with your skin, you should see your physician for other symptom relief options.
There is another skin condition that is rare but can be difficult to deal with, as well as drastically affecting a person’s quality of life and it is called tactile allodynia. Allodynia can simply be defined as pain caused by touch. Temperatures and physical touch can elicit a pain response. In patients with this condition, their body responds to stimuli that does not usually cause pain in other people. Certain movement in joints can also trigger Allodynia. Allodynia can be found in patients who have complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines and neuropathies. This can be very difficult to deal with, let’s face it; no one wants to hurt from someone or something touching your skin.
What things can you do if you are one of those who have to deal with this on top of your fibromyalgia pain?
-> The first thing is to limit your sun exposure, and if you will be out in the sun, make sure to protect yourself by using sunscreen and/or clothing and a hat to protect your skin.
-> Also, using a mild soap can be very effective as well as using warm water versus hot water when bathing, showering or washing your hands.
-> For women, limit the amount of makeup you use or make sure the makeup you are using is non-comedogenic to reduce irritation.
-> And lastly, use moisturizer on your skin to prevent dryness which leads to itchy skin.
So in response to the question about fibromyalgia causing skin conditions or skin issues, there are many physical responses and body systems working with, or against each other to elicit these unwanted issues. Our bodies, by design, are able to function with all the systems and organs working hand in hand. But often, if there is a breakdown in one system, it will most certainly affect the rest. Many diagnoses overlap with fibromyalgia patients so sometimes defining what symptoms are related to which diagnosis can be difficult.
So does fibromyalgia cause skin issues?? I guess the answer is both yes and no.
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