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Rashes and Endometriosis

Posted on June 08, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Dan Martin, M.D.
Article written by
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN

On MyEndometriosisTeam, members often discuss skin problems, such as itchy laparoscopy scars and hormonal acne. Sometimes people who have endometriosis experience rashes due to other health conditions, such as eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. Endometriosis also raises the risk of developing some of these skin conditions.

What Is Endometriosis?

The endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus and is shed each month during menstrual periods until menopause. In people with endometriosis, endometrial-like tissue grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Common symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, bloating, and infertility.

Skin Allergies and Endometriosis

Skin allergies in people with endometriosis are often reported but not well understood. Although endometriosis is still considered somewhat of a medical mystery, several decades of research on women’s health suggest a link between endometriosis, autoimmune diseases, and allergies. This connection is likely related to an underlying immune system dysfunction.

Eczema

The prevalence of eczema (an allergic condition) in those with endometriosis is estimated to be 15 percent. If you are experiencing inflammation and itching from this skin condition, see a dermatologist for treatment to help relieve the symptoms.

Hives

Endometriosis is associated with allergies that cause immediate strong reactions, sometimes along with skin lesions known as urticaria (hives). Endometrial tissue may secrete higher levels of inflammatory signal proteins (cytokines) and histamine, substances that tell the immune system to react with hives. Hives cause raised welts that may be skin-colored, reddish on paler skin, or purplish on darker skin. They may disappear and reappear, producing intense itchiness that can cause great discomfort and disrupt sleep.

To avoid making skin tender and prone to infection, it is important to resist the urge to scratch. Applying anti-itch creams or taking oral antihistamines (allergy medications) can help alleviate the itch.

Skin Reactions to Medication Allergies

Many women with endometriosis report having allergies, including drug allergies. Multiple members of MyEndometriosisTeam have reported skin rashes as a side effect of medication. One member wrote, “I just received my first Depo-Provera shot this month and have since developed an itchy skin rash on my back, neck, chest, stomach, under my breasts, and on the backs of my legs. It’s really itchy, and I ended up causing myself to bleed due to the scratching. I have tried taking antihistamines, but the rash is not going away.”

Others responded with similar stories:

  • “I never got a rash from Depo, but I developed horrible rashes from Lupron.”
  • “I got my first Depo shot two months ago. I have a full-body rash.”
  • “Within hours of my first Visanne dosage, I developed itchiness that spread from my calves to my scalp, face, back of my legs, chest, and lower arms/hands.”

It’s not always possible to predict how your body will react to a new medication. Dermatologic side effects, including rash and acne, occur in 1 percent to 10 percent of those who start medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera). Skin-related side effects are also common among those taking leuprorelin acetate (Lupron).

Severe Allergy Symptoms

If you develop a sudden reaction, let your doctor know right away. Swelling in your face or throat, a rapid heart rate, dizziness, or trouble breathing could be a symptom of a serious allergic reaction. You should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Nonallergic Skin Issues

Not all skin problems in people with endometriosis stem from allergies. In rare cases, endometriosis can directly affect the skin. Autoimmune conditions and hormonal imbalances can also play a role.

Psoriasis

There is some evidence that people with endometriosis may have a higher risk of developing psoriasis and vice versa. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that can cause dry, cracked skin and patches of thick, inflamed skin with silvery scales. Some people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which attacks the joints.

Cutaneous Endometriosis

Endometriosis travels outside the pelvis in about 12 percent of cases. Rarely, cutaneous endometriosis will develop. This condition occurs when endometrial cells travel through the body’s lymphatic system and grow on the skin.

Cutaneous endometriosis may develop from surgical scar tissue (known as scar endometriosis) or in another spontaneous location. Along with producing itchiness, swelling, and discoloration, endometrial cells may bleed or change throughout the menstrual cycle.

After proper diagnosis through a biopsy, the lesion can be surgically removed, which usually offers a permanent solution. Lesions that arise after excision could be a sign of endometrial carcinoma, a type of cancer.

Hormone-Related Acne

Given the hormonal aspects, it’s not surprising that many people with endometriosis experience acne breakouts. It can be tough to pinpoint whether acne results from the condition or its treatment, which often includes hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills).

Several members of MyEndometriosisTeam have discussed struggling with this symptom:

“I just want to hide my face from everyone,” wrote one member. “I’m not sure if it is the endometriosis causing me to break out. I had a radical hysterectomy at 21 and have been on estrogen patches since.”

“I got a horrible breakout, and I’m feeling so awful about myself,” shared another. “My makeup is not going on smoothly due to the acne. I thought I was done with huge breakouts like this.”

A third MyEndometriosisTeam member posted, “My doctor put me on norephedrine a few months ago, and now my face has broken out. I have been frustrated for the past two months. Hoping my face clears up and that my cycle will eventually get back to normal.”

Talk With a Dermatologist

If prolonged or recurrent rashes affect your quality of life, make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss treatment and helpful lifestyle changes. Be sure to mention that you have endometriosis, and list any medications you take to treat it.

Encourage your dermatologist to speak with your gynecologist to get a comprehensive view of your medical history and current health.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEndometriosisTeam is the social network for people with endometriosis and their loved ones. On MyEndometriosisTeam, more than 125,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with endometriosis.

Have you experienced skin rashes with endometriosis? Is there anything that seems to make your skin worse or better? Share your story in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyEndometriosisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Dan Martin, M.D. is the scientific and medical director of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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