YANMD skin condition help
September 26, 2011 5:45 PM   Subscribe

YANMD, but can you identify this skin...condition? (Pictures included)

My mum has had a *rash* show up on the back of one of her arms. She doesn't feel the need to go to the doctor as she has had it for approximately two months without it causing her any stress ( isn't itchy, irritating, doesn't sting when you touch it etc). However whenever I look at it, I am so alarmed by the sight that I feel it should be at least checked out? Obviously I can't google an image, so I was wondering if anyone could identify the condition from the pictures below so we can find out if this needs to be investigated further.

There should be a total of three photos. Apologies in advance for the crappy quality.
posted by tegna56 to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Stretch marks?
posted by dfriedman at 5:55 PM on September 26, 2011

I am relatively sure dfriedman is correct. Go to google images and search for "stretch marks"--as you scan the results you will see examples that are almost identical.
posted by rmhsinc at 6:05 PM on September 26, 2011

It looks like there's some compression of the loose epidermis (top layer of skin) causing rupture of blood vessels. There's probably a heat/moisture component as well.

If you look carefully, running along the middle the thicker red marks there's some dead skin, likely from local inflammation. It may even be worse than it looks if there's some necrosis going on.

She may claim that it doesn't bother her, but it definitely looks like something that should be treated... with topical antibiotics at the least to prevent opportunistic infection. It looks like there's an underlying cause (excess subdermal adipose/fat) that should be addressed to treat the symptom.

Also, does she have diabetes? If she does, she needs to see her doctor asap (although this type of problem is more typical of extremities; feet, hands - the pain nerves actually stop working so patients don't feel any discomfort, sometimes even after widespread necrosis sets in).

Does she sleep on her (left) side? Perhaps try sleeping on her back, with her arms above the blanket to prevent wrinkling and compressing the skin, or on her stomach with her arms up above the pillows. Perhaps wearing sleeveless night clothes. Try to minimize contact or pressure to the area.

Please convince her to see her doctor. Just in case.
posted by porpoise at 6:09 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

These do look an awful lot like stretch marks to me, too. Does your mom have any sort of endocrine disorder? Is she taking steroids/glucocorticoids to treat a disease or condition? Or has she gained a significant amount of weight (and/or muscle mass) in the last few months?
posted by pecanpies at 6:09 PM on September 26, 2011

That really doesn't look like stretch marks to me, especially if it just happened within the last couple of months. Possibly livedo reticularis?
posted by blurker at 6:11 PM on September 26, 2011

It doesn't look like stretch marks to me. It would be odd to have stretch marks on one arm and not the other. It looks like some kind of fungal infection, or possibly a Bartonella rash.
posted by iconomy at 6:13 PM on September 26, 2011

(yes, she needs to "investigate further")
posted by iconomy at 6:14 PM on September 26, 2011

She needs to get it checked out. It looks fungus-y/yeast-y to me. But whatever it is, it's time for the doctor.
posted by analog at 6:33 PM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: Ditto that this does not look like stretch marks to me, which tend to have more of a groovelike, linear appearance. If this were my mother, I would not let up until she had it examined. Certain forms of erythema can be symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or hypothyroidism, among other things.
posted by notquitemaryann at 6:37 PM on September 26, 2011

I'd take a long guess at Pityriasis rosea, which isn't harmful and will go away on its own in time, but I definitely think she should have a doctor - a dermatologist, really - take a look. It looks like a mean rash - I'm glad it doesn't hurt or itch.

Good luck.
posted by aryma at 6:47 PM on September 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for the feedback I have shown my mum the post and have now managed to convince her to see a doctor. I will keep you posted!
posted by tegna56 at 7:05 PM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: At a guess, Erythema ab igne but since IANAD and a bunch of nasty stuff (e.g. vascular problems, even a thrombosis) produces similar-looking signs, you should get it checked out for sure.
posted by cromagnon at 7:07 PM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: IANYD but I am a doctor (not a dermatologist thought) and I don't think it looks like stretch marks, and I think pretty much all the guesses on this thread are incorrect. I'm not sure what it is, when I first saw the photos my thought was livedo reticularis, but it's not in the usual place (the legs) and it looks like more than just purple mottling since there is some sort of desquamation or scabbing or something in part of it that's more towards her torso. Honestly I have no idea what that is, so you ought to drop us a line when she gets in to a dermatologist and they tell you. It's obviously not an emergency since she's had it for 2 months, but she should definitely get it checked out.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes,Please let us know now that we are all curious. you might get her medical bill paid if you set up a pool to correctly identify the marks. i am not willing to go straight up(1:1) against a physician but I will take 3:1 on stretch marks. hope what ever it is, it is benign and self limiting.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:27 AM on September 27, 2011

Response by poster: For anyone who is curious, the doctor identified the condition as Erythema ab igne. Thanks for the help guys! And thanks for convincing my mum to finally go to the doctor!
posted by tegna56 at 10:31 PM on October 2, 2011

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