Schamberg's disease is a skin disorder whereby the initial purplish spots slowly spread and change to red and orange or brown. An abnormal immune reaction is thought to somehow cause an inflammation of the capillary blood vessels and result in this disorder. As of 2011, no preventive measures or cure has been discovered. Physicians can only treat the symptoms.
Understanding Schamberg's Disease
Schamberg's disease is also called progressive pigmentary purpura. Purpura is the medical term to describe purplish spots on the skin that result from hemorrhaging. People with Schamberg's disease have purplish spots, which may first appear on both legs, but then slowly spread. The disease can affect all ages, but it usually affects older men.
Appearance of Schamberg's Disease
This disorder is caused by a capillaritis, or an inflammation of the capillaries. Due to the inflammation, red blood cells can go into the skin. A protein called hemosiderin, which is normally within the red blood cells, leaks out and causes areas of orange or brown. Because the old areas are brown and the new spots are red, physicians describe the appearance of Schamberg's disease as having the look of cayenne pepper.
Although capillary inflammation can lead to this disorder, the cause of the inflammation is unknown. Scientists hypothesize that it may be due to an abnormal immune reaction because white blood cells, which are part of the immune response, are found around the blood vessels. A normal immune response should only target foreign substances. Dr. Tim Kenney of Patient.co.uk writes that bezafibrate, chlordiazepoxide, aspirin and paracetamol medications, as well as vitamin B-1, are associated with this disease, but there is no mention of vitamin K as a preventive measure.
There is no clinical evidence of any preventive steps you can take to avoid Schamberg's disease, but there are medications to treat the symptoms. Glucocorticoids may help, according to Klaus Wolff, M.D. in “Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology.” Minocycline or tetracycline antibiotics at 50 mg two times a day is recommended. PUVA is advised for severe cases, but support hose is advisable for everyone with this disorder. Also, Dr. Erick A. Mafong of the Dermatology & Laser Center of San Diego notes that vitamin K creams have been used to help alleviate purpura, but it is doubtful that vitamin K cream will make much of a difference with Schamberg's disease. In addition to prevention, scientists still have to find a cure for this disease.
- East Tennessee State University: Schamberg Disease
- “Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology”; Klauss Wolff, M.D., Richard Johnson, M.D.; 2009
- “Lichtman's Atlas of Hematology”; Marshall Lichtman, M.D., Jean Shafer et al.; 2007
- Patient.co.uk.: Schamberg's Disease
- Dermatology & Laser Center of San Diego: Dr. Erick A. Mafong