Pyoderma Gangrenosum

What is Pyoderma Gangrenosum?

Pyoderma Gangrenosum is a rare condition that causes inflammation and sores on the skin.

There are two types of Pyoderma gangrenosum: Classic/typical occurs on the lower body and sores are deeper, while atypical is lighter and sores are often on the hands and arms, and sometimes the face.

About one person in 100,000 have pyoderma gangrenosum. About 50 percent of people with the disease also have inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, or another autoimmune condition. If you are over age 40, you’re more likely than a younger person to develop pyoderma gangrenosum.

Cuts or wounds to the skin can trigger an outbreak of pyoderma gangrenosum.

What are the Symptoms of Pyoderma Gangrenosum?

Pyoderma gangrenosum usually begins with small, red bumps that look like bug bites. These smaller sores can grow and merge into larger sores that may be painful. You may have joint pain and body weakness if you also suffer from pyoderma gangrenosum.

The sores may last for weeks, become infected and could leave scars on the skin. Patients with the sores may be miserable and feel unable to maintain regular social activity.

Pyoderma Gangrenosum Causes

Experts aren’t sure exactly why pyoderma gangrenosum occurs, but it appears to be an autoimmune disease. This means that the body begins to attack its own healthy tissues in the same way it would attack an invading, foreign organism. In the case of pyoderma gangrenosum, the body attacks healthy skin cells.

Research has found that affected tissues often have a high concentration of white blood cells called neutrophils which are responsible for attacking harmful infection. This is a strong indicator that pyoderma gangrenosum is linked to the immune system. However, it’s not clear why some people develop this abnormal immune system response.

Pyoderma gangrenosum seems to be particularly common in people with other disorders related to the immune system, such as inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also prevalent in people with hepatitis, cancers that affect the blood (leukemia), blood dyscrasia and a genetic disorder known as PAPA syndrome.

How is Pyoderma Gangrenosum Treated?

Corticosteriods may help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with pyoderma gangrenosum. Because the condition is connected to some autoimmune disorders, medications that suppress immune system functions may be prescribed. Pain medication can help with discomfort.

You should take steps to carefully treat and dress the wounds to prevent scarring. Moistened bandages and elasticized wrap can keep the wounds from growing and getting deeper.

Even after successful treatment, patients may get additional sores, and they may occur at any time.

Pyoderma Gangrenosum Prevention

Since pyoderma gangrenosum appears to be an autoimmune disorder, most people are simply born with it and it cannot be completely prevented. However, it may be possible to reduce the frequency and severity of ulcers in future.

It’s important to avoid injuring the skin wherever possible, as this can provoke the formation of new ulcers. Even very minor injuries can trigger a flareup, so take particular care around sharp objects, avoid getting tattoos and piercings, and avoid surgery wherever possible.

In cases of pyoderma gangrenosum which occur alongside another disorder, it may be possible to reduce the severity of pyoderma gangrenosum by getting the underlying condition under control. It’s important to follow all treatment plans, advice and lifestyle change recommendations given to you by your doctor, as this could subsequently make the pyoderma gangrenosum easier to manage.