Crohn's Disease and Skin Problems?
Last updated: August 2023
Unfortunately, as we all know too well, Crohn's disease is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does it affect our bowels with the usual symptoms of abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and bleeding – it has an entire slew of extra-intestinal symptoms that are just as fun.
Skin, joint, and eye inflammation with Crohn's
Yes, Crohn's affects the entire body in ways that can seem unimaginable. Eye inflammation is a symptom, along with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, joint pain, joint swelling, and skin issues. And the skin issues can be quite severe. They can range from mouth sores to erythema nodosum.
When I was first diagnosed within a couple of months I got erythema nodosum. My gastroenterologist failed to warn me that Crohn's can affect your skin so I failed to alert him when I first started experiencing the red dots. Erythema Nodosum is extremely painful and I will never forget how awful it was dealing with it. Little did I know in the future, I would have to deal with more skin issues.
Shingles and a skin infection
Many years later, I was put on a medication called Xeljanz. One of the warnings is that it can cause shingles. Well, sure enough, about a year into taking this drug I got shingles and that was an absolute nightmare. The pain was excruciating and the rashes on the skin were horrible. But thankfully I got through it and haven't had it since.
Just when I thought dealing with skin issues was over, just recently I dealt with a horrific skin infection that had me going mad due to the pain. Let me explain.
It started out on the back of my leg, what looked like an infected ingrown hair. Which is what I thought it was. And as a side note, I never have had skin issues, only when it comes to Crohn's. Anyways, this welt appeared and I thought it was nothing.
Within a day or 2 it got bigger and started to really hurt. It was extremely sensitive to touch and since it was one the back of my leg it started to get hard to sit down on a chair. Any pressure to the area was painful. I eventually got around to draining it and it brought me huge relief. It was then that I realized this was not an ingrown hair. But it went away.
And then a staph infection
About a month later, the same welt appeared on my forehead and backside! Again, it started out looking like a small pimple so I didn't think anything of it just that I was breaking out somehow. Within 2 days it grew and it got worse overnight.
I woke up and literally felt like crying from the pain. The throbbing and pressure was unreal. I had to go to the dermatologist as an emergency and begged them to help me. Thankfully they did, and I ended up getting them drained. Samples were taken for testing and it ended up being an infection of Staphylococcus aureus.
This particular bacteria is found in our bodies naturally. So what on earth happened? My dermatologist explained that since I am on a medicine that suppresses my immune system and recently I added prednisone to the mix due to a flare, my immune system was extra compromised. Therefore, since our immune system keeps in check the natural bacteria found in our bodies, mine got out of whack and manifested as a skin infection.
In turn, I was put on antibiotics and given an antibiotic cream to apply to the area. I was better in no time but goodness that was not a fun experience. The pain was horrific and I wish I would have seen a doctor sooner before it became more severe.
Keep an eye on skin problems with Crohn's
So just a warning, if you see something unusual happening to your skin – don't wait! Get it checked out immediately, you'll be thankful you did.
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