Anemia and skin problems
Anemia rash most often appears as pinpoint red spots or unexplained bruising on your skin.
Anemia rash is most often caused by aplastic anemia, a rare disorder.
If you’re experiencing a rash or skin changes, you should make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist.
There are many different types of anemias with different causes. They all have the same effect on the body: an abnormally low amount of red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through the body.
Some types of anemia can cause rashes, which are abnormalities on the skin. Sometimes, the rash that presents with anemia may be due to the anemia condition itself. Other times, the rash may be due to complications from the treatment of the anemia.
What causes anemia rash and what does it look like?What causes anemia rash and what does it look like?Aplastic anemiaAplastic anemia is one of the most common causes of anemia rashes. Aplastic anemia is a rare condition, but it can be serious. It can develop or be inherited. It’s most often seen in teenagers and older adults. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it’s two to three times more common in Asian countries than anywhere else in the world.
Aplastic anemia occurs when the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells. The rashes resemble patches of pinpoint red or purple spots, known as petechiae. These red spots may be raised or flat on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body but are more common on the neck, arms, and legs.
The petechial red spots do not typically cause any symptoms like pain or itching. You should notice that they stay red, even if you press on the skin.
In aplastic anemia, not only is there a shortage of red blood cells, there is also a lower than normal level of platelets, another type of blood cell. Low platelet count tends to result in bruising or bleeding more easily. This leads to bruises that look like rashes.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpuraThrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is a rare blood disorder that causes tiny blood clots to form throughout your body. This can cause the tiny red or purple spots known as petechiae, as well as unexplained purplish bruising that can look like a rash. The bruising is known as purpura.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuriaParoxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria is a very rare genetic disorder in which a genetic mutation causes your body to produce abnormal red blood cells that break down too quickly. This can cause blood clots and unexplained bruising.
Hemolytic uremic syndromeHemolytic uremic syndrome is a condition in which an immune reaction causes the destruction of red blood cells. The immune reaction can be triggered by bacterial infections, some medications, and even pregnancy. It can cause small, unexplained bruising and swelling, particularly of your face, hands, or feet.
Other causesIron deficiency anemia is one of the most common types of anemia. People with iron deficiency of any kind may develop pruritus, which is the medical term for itchy skin. As you itch, you may scratch your skin, which can cause redness and bumps that look like rashes.
In some cases, treatment for iron deficiency anemia may also cause rashes. Ferrous sulfate is a type of iron supplement that your doctor may prescribe to you if you have iron deficiency anemia. Some people may develop an allergy to the ferrous sulfate therapy. This can cause you to develop an itchy rash and hives. The hives or rash can appear anywhere on the body and may also come with some skin swelling under the red areas.
You should seek medical attention immediately if you think you have hives or an allergic rash due to ferrous sulfate, especially if you experience any swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat.
Diagnosing anemia rashYour doctor may suspect anemia as the cause of your rash if it meets the physical description and is accompanied with other common anemia symptoms. These include:
pale skinfatigueshortness of breathYour doctor may check you for aplastic anemia if you display symptoms like:
rapid or irregular heartbeatunexplained, easy bruisingprolonged bleeding from cuts, especially minor onesdizziness and headachesnosebleedsbleeding gumsfrequent infections, especially those that take longer to clear up than normalIf you’re experiencing a rash or skin changes, you should make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist, especially if:
the rash is severe and comes on suddenly with no explanationthe rash covers your whole bodythe rash lasts more than two weeks and hasn’t improved with home treatmentyou also experience other symptoms like tiredness, fever, weight loss, or changes in bowel movementsIf you believe that the rash is a reaction to new iron supplements that you’ve started taking, seek immediate medical attention. You could be having an allergic reaction or may be taking too high of a dose.