Sjogren syndrome is an autoimmune condition that affects women almost nine times more commonly than it does men. There are some classic symptoms of Sjogren syndrome which characterize the conditions.
These include dry eye, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Hives (Also called urticaria) is a very common symptom associated with Sjogren syndrome, with some estimating 50% of the cases being affected by it.
It is not known what causes Sjogren syndrome but an Epstein Barr infection could be the cause alongside some genetic predisposition in people. Once the destructive process has been triggered, the body’s own immune cells end up infiltrating and destroying the cells of the salivary and tear glands.
Skin symptoms of Sjogren syndrome
The most common dermatologic symptoms seen in patient’s of Sjogren syndrome is dry skin. As happens with dry skin, it is common to develop itching sensation throughout the body. People with Sjogren syndrome also sweat less than other people and that can make it difficult for them to bear hot temperatures.
The presence of multiple skin lesions throughout the body is also not an uncommon occurrence. Multiple purple/reddish spots can be seen on the body. The reason behind the occurrence of these spots is believed to be bleeding from inflamed blood vessels.
The inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) is much more troublesome to the patients than just dryness of the skin. Often, patients can mistake the occurrence of these patches on the body for a primarily dermatologic disturbance and seek treatment for that.
Lab tests for Sjogren Syndrome
The doctor may order some or all of the following lab tests to help confirm the diagnosis of Sjogren syndrome.
Schirmer’s test – It measures the wetting of a standardized piece of paper when kept between the eyeball and the edge of the lower eyelid.
A biopsy of the salivary gland to check for inflammatory cell infiltration or a blood test to test for anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies.
The presence of dry skin can be managed by the use of a moisturizer or other hydrating ointments. People suffering from dry skin are also advised to use a non-soap cleaner which is much gentler. Dryness of the vagina may be relieved by the use of a water-based lubricant.
For patients that are suffering inflammation of the blood vessels and are seeing patches all over their body, the use of systemic steroids like Prednisone may be useful. Doctors can also use immune suppressants in severe cases.
A lot of times, doctors may prescribe antihistamines or other commonly used anti-allergy drugs for hives seen during Sjogren syndrome. This will increase the dryness seen in other parts of the body and can lead to a worsening of the symptoms.
People that are suffering from Sjogren syndrome will see periods when the symptoms are particularly severe and periods when the disease seems to have regressed. The dryness of the eye, mouth and even the skin is unlikely to see too much improvement over a long duration of time and will have to be managed through the use of external means.
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