As the name suggests, vasculitis is a serious condition involving inflammation of the blood vessels when the body’s immune system attacks them. Inflammation can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic), and in severe cases, blood flow can be restricted to such an extent that organ and tissue damage occurs.
There are nearly 20 varieties of vasculitis involving the skin, joints, brain, nerves, intestines, heart, lungs, kidneys, and eyes. Cutaneous vasculitis appears on the skin as red or purple spots, usually on the legs and feet. When the lesions become larger, they resemble bruises and can be itchy and painful.
While children and adults can both suffer from vasculitis, the condition generally affects people in late middle-age. It is not contagious and, although there may be a genetic link, it rarely affects multiple family members in the way that a hereditary disease would.
Most of the factors that trigger vasculitis have yet to be determined, partly because there are so many variants of the condition. There is a relationship between certain viral or bacterial infections and vasculitis, and certain medications can precipitate the condition. Medical problems such as blood disorders or malignancy are also suspected. Investigation into your vasculitis, therefore, needs to be thorough as there may be other illnesses to consider and treat alongside the vasculitis.
It is worth mentioning a form of vasculitis of the skin which has the appearance of hives, or urticaria, where patches of skin become inflamed and weals form. The condition, appropriately known as “urticarial vasculitis”, is treated in a very different way to hives. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis from your dermatologist so that the correct medication can be prescribed.
Medications may include corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In addition, many laser treatments and light treatments are available to minimize the appearance of blood vessels and lesions on the skin.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin experts will determine the extent of your vasculitis and formulate a targeted course of treatment.