Sometimes fibromyalgia and skin conditions that cannot be explained cause even more issues for someone already suffering other common symptoms of fibromyalgia.
We know that when asked what fibromyalgia is, most people will say that it’s a condition that causes pain throughout the body. However, we often talk about the additional symptoms that have nothing to do with muscle, nerve or joint pain. These symptoms are often overlooked because they seem minor compared to the pain, but the impact of fibromyalgia on your skin cannot be overlooked.
Like many fibromyalgia symptoms, the exact impact on the skin can vary from one person to another. Many people with fibromyalgia also assume that their skin problems are separate from the larger condition because they don’t realize the systemic impact of fibromyalgia. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common skin-related symptoms and what you can do to relieve them.
- Research published in 2014 found that approximately 3% of those with fibromyalgia experience some level of unexplained skin itching. Approximately 2% may have thick patches of skin or lumps on the skin that itch. As with some other symptoms of fibromyalgia, the itching is not necessarily due to allergies or other medical conditions.
Being that our skin is the largest organ of the body, symptoms are bound to express themselves through the skin at one time or another. When you were a teenager you might have suffered from acne, and as an adult, you might find yourself dealing with multiple reasons for skin irritations, and fibro maybe just one of them.
- Overactive nerve fibers due to functioning of the central nervous system. The sensation of itching is basically triggered with no valid cause, so there literally is no reason for the itching but it occurs anyway due to signals sent from the brain into the spinal cord and out into peripheral nerve cells.
- Chemical imbalances caused by the body’s demand for natural pain relief. For instance, serotonin produced internally can help control pain and is stimulated when you scratch an itch. It’s possible that fibromyalgia patients are triggered to itch in order to produce more serotonin. Other chemicals are potentially involved as well.
- Food allergies to gluten or other grains. The protein in gluten and lectins can cause irritation or itching, and I find the most common areas for food allergy reactions are the arms and abdomen.
- Candidiasis : a system fungal infection that we believe is associated with certain skin conditions in some people with fibromyalgia and other conditions.
- Reactions to certain medications, or slow detoxification pathways.
You might be tempted to take Benadryl on a regular basis for allergies or skin irritations, but remember what we were talking about recently in one of our live interactive. Benadryl has come under fire for its association with contributing to memory loss and dementia.
One excerpt from Life Extension.
“Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk. … In a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers offer compelling evidence of a link between long-term use of anticholinergic medications like Benadryl and dementia. Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine“.May 23, 2017
Don’t worry about occasional use, I am talking about regular use on a daily basis for allergies or sleep issues.
It is always a better idea to work to get to those root causes, and please believe me when I say that many people are surprised to find out that things they are doing or being exposed to daily can be contributors to skin irritations.
If the itching is potentially caused by the pain of fibromyalgia, over-the-counter pain medications are often prescribed. The catch is that some of these medications can actually cause skin itching as a side effect. Sufferers can start by exploring the side effects of all medications that they currently take, asking their doctor for alternatives to medications that may contribute to the itching.
There are also some natural options for skin itching whether associated with fibromyalgia or not. Some of the most common options include:
- Cold, wet application for approximately 10 minutes
- Oatmeal bath
- Topical anesthetics
- Menthol or calamine topical applications
- Miracle 2 (gel and lotion)
- Keep all toxic body products off the skin and out of the house
- You should also check your lotions, skin care products, makeup and laundry detergent for ingredients that may irritate your fibromyalgia and skin conditions. (fragrances, propyls, and preservatives)
People with fibromyalgia might break out in rashes that aren’t connected to an allergic reaction or any known medical condition. They seem to come out of nowhere and can last for hours, days or months. The location of the rashes and level of discomfort varies from one person to another.
In some cases, the rashes are caused by skin itching. The natural response to itching is to scratch, and scratching can cause inflammation, redness, swelling, or even small break breaks in the skin. Treating the itching may help the rash, but some fibromyalgia rashes aren’t connected to itching or scratching at all.
According to Devin Starlanyl, “fibromyalgia skin biopsies reveal significantly higher values of Immunoglobin G (IgG) deposits in the skin and vessel walls and a higher reactivity for one type of collagen” (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain)
Treatment for a rash often comes down to soothe the skin for immediate relief because there is no long-term cure. For instance, many people find that taking a lukewarm shower helps. You might benefit from an oatmeal bath or apply cool, wet compresses when suffering from fibromyalgia and skin rashes.
If you aren’t itching, perhaps you notice bruises that seem to come out of nowhere. This is another complaint of people with fibromyalgia, especially those who also experience extremely sensitive skin. If a simple hug from a friend is often registered as a painful event, can you imagine the pain that may come from bumping into the corner of a table or simply standing under a strong burst of water from a showerhead?
If your body is registering everyday touches as painful events, then small skin touches may result in bruises that have no logical explanation. In many cases, the bruises are actually the result of enhanced clumsiness that comes from sleep deprivation and fibromyalgia brain fog. When you aren’t fully aware of your actions and are prone to running into things, you’re likely to experience more bruising than people who are more cognitively alert.
What we eat and drink is important for many reasons, and because the skin is the largest organ of the body, it can be affected when food allergens or sensitivities to gluten or casein (dairy protein) are ingested.
Controlling stress is often recommended for fibromyalgia patients because it’s believed to lower the intensity of many fibro symptoms. You may react to stress more intensely than people without fibromyalgia, and the impact on your body is likely stronger as well. Just having fibromyalgia pain is also stressful, so taking measures to relax and relieve stress is an essential part of the fibromyalgia treatment plan.
I have found that the combination of external stressors and food allergies/sensitivities can be one of the most common reasons for skin conditions in fibromyalgia. If you also suffer from psoriasis as well as fibromyalgia, you will treat the skin disorder in the same way as people without fibromyalgia. This often includes topical treatments, light therapy, medication injections, and natural treatments like Aloe Vera gel and fish oil supplements.
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