Causes Of Schamberg’s Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Schamberg disease is a skin condition in which there is patchy discoloration of skin, usually in the lower legs. It is a chronic and progressive skin disease manifesting into macules and papules. The lesions spread slowly from lower extremity upwards. Discoloration in the skin is caused due to leaking capillaries under the skin. Discoloration is due to deposition of haemosiderin, the iron released from the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. The disease as such is harmless but for the cosmetic appearance.

The exact cause of schamberg disease is not known but it is believed to be related to viral infection and allergic reaction to certain dyes used in clothes and food preservatives.

Certain other factors such as exercise and gravitation may have some implications in its occurrence. Schamberg disease is slow and progressive. It is difficult to treat the condition permanently. However, symptoms such as itching may be relieved with application of steroidal creams and lotions.

What Causes Schamberg’s Disease?

Schamberg disease is named after the person who described the disease in the year 1901. This disease can affect anyone, but it is seen more in men than females. The exact cause of schamberg disease is not very well understood by medical fraternity. But the seed of suspicion lies in dysfunction of the immune system.

Certain contributing factors are suspected such as allergy to food preservative, viral infection etc.

Discoloration of skin occurs due to inflammation of the capillaries. Blood leaks from the inflamed capillaries into the adjacent tissues. The red blood cells breakdown and iron is released from the hemoglobin. It gets deposited in the skin giving the orange or rusty tinge to the affected skin patch.

Signs And Symptoms Of Schamberg’s Disease

Below are important clinical symptoms and signs of schamberg disease:

  • Localized patches consisting of macules and papules. They are plenty in numbers. The patches are well demarcated.
  • Patient may complain of itching. But there is no pain.
  • Orange or rusty brown discoloration of skin.
  • Petechiea appearing as cayenne pepper spots.
  • The lesions appear slowly and begin from lower leg. Later of it gradually spreads to upper part of the body.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Schamberg’s Disease

Diagnosis of schamberg disease is usually done clinically by examining the lesions, besides medical history. The dermatologist usually examines the lesions with the help of a magnified glass. Blood tests for platelet count and clotting time are done. Skin biopsy and its evaluation under the microscope confirm the diagnosis of schamberg disease.

Schamberg disease is slow and progressive. Complete cure of this disease is not possible. Thus treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms. Patient finds improvement in itching and other symptoms by applying steroidal creams and lotions.

Although the disease is harmless, its ugly appearance on leg may cause some metal distress for the patient. In such situation psychotherapy and reassurance by the doctor and family members will help to reduce stress and anxiety that is produced by the appearance of the lesions.