Rheumatoid arthritis and the skin complications related to this condition can range from mild to severe.
Rheumatoid arthritis and skin complication symptoms range from mild to severe, causing lesions. Although rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the joints, it can also involve organs and the skin, too. Many rheumatoid arthritis patients will experience skin manifestations and symptoms can vary greatly. On the severe side, skin complications can even result in lesions.
Roughly 10 to 40 percent of patients will develop nodules, which consist of infiltrating inflammatory cells that surround the nexus of necrosis. Nodules can vary in size and are commonly found on the extensor surfaces. Nodules are quite common in rheumatoid arthritis, but some factors may increase a person’s risk of developing them, such as testing positive for rheumatoid factor and smoking. Majority of nodules are asymptomatic, meaning, they do not require treatment, but for nodules that interfere with physical function, injections or surgical removal may be required.
Lower-extremity ulcers are less frequent than nodules and occur in up to nine percent of patients, but rates are decreasing thanks to advancements in therapy. Ulcers that do develop in rheumatoid arthritis patients may be persistent and chronic, and many of them do not heal well even with proper treatment. Factors that contribute to ulcers in rheumatoid arthritis include poor blood supply, repeated pressure or trauma to the affected areas, and rheumatoid vasculitis.
Rheumatoid vasculitis is a serious condition but quite uncommon, with a rate of 0.1 to five percent. It usually occurs 10 to 15 years after disease diagnosis, and is seen in small to medium blood vessels. Symptoms include nail infarcts, nail bed papules, purple spots, rashes, and bruises. More serious complications of rheumatoid vasculitis include ulcers, necrotic lesions, and gangrene.
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