RA patients more prone to skin abnormalities than those with noninflammatory diseases

December 5, 2006

London - According to a recent British study, cutaneous abnormalities are more common among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in patients with noninflammatory diseases.

London - According to a recent British study, cutaneous abnormalities are more common among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in patients with noninflammatory diseases.

The study, reported in the October issue of The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, involved 205 RA patients and 144 control subjects with noninflammatory disease, all of whom were being treated at rheumatology outpatient clinics in West Midlands, England. The noninflammatory conditions were osteoarthritis, soft-tissue rheumatism, back pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and gout. The subjects were all examined by a dermatologist.

Overall, 61 percent of the RA patients and 47 percent of the control patients reported skin abnormalities. The prevalence of many conditions, such as xerosis and eczema, were similar in both groups.

The RA patients were more likely to be affected by bruising, athlete’s foot, hypertrophic scars, rheumatoid nodules, vasculitis and cushingoid facies. They also were associated with nail signs, including dilated nail-fold capillaries, longitudinal nail ridging and onycholysis.

The study notes that misdiagnosis of skin problems in RA patients may lead to mismanagement. The study’s authors suggest that rheumatologists need a good working knowledge of skin conditions as well as working relationships with dermatologists.