Skin changes with lymphedema: I'm dealing with an issue... - LSN


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Skin changes with lymphedema

Lm92 profile image
11 Replies

I'm dealing with an issue that has both my doctor and therapist stumped. Since my last bout with cellulitis in December, I've developed these bumps on the skin of my affected leg that looks like a cross between warts and a water blister. I have an appointment with a dermatologist next month, but they're really worrying me. They look as though they are filled with fluid, but they aren't. They are raised, red, shiny but non-painful. The only real symptom I have with them is occasional itchiness. My doctor has been afraid of doing a skin biopsy on the area for fear of infection or poor healing. Anyone else dealt with anything similar with their lymphedema?

11 Replies
Anne16 profile image

Hi there, yes I have similar bumps on both legs. Although they never go away altogether, they are sometimes worse than others - very sore, itchy and very red and angry looking. Each bout of cellulitis has left them worse than before. Nothing concrete in the form of an actual diagnosis. I keep my legs super moisturised and use ice packs when the soreness becomes unbearably inflamed and sore. Hope this helps, take care. x

Lm92 profile image
Lm92 in reply to Anne16

Yes! I've noticed that about mine as well. Sometimes there are hardly any, but other times they seem to pop up overnight. They usually get worse after a bout with cellulitis, but I haven't had any infection (that I know of) since December, but this time they've gotten worse just since last week. The only change in lifestyle is spending more time outside (camping for a family reunion), but I stayed out of the pool, kept my legs covered and also globbed up with sunscreen. No mosquito or bug bites either, so it's a mystery. If I get a confirmed diagnosis, I'll let you know.

Lynora profile image

It could be lymphangioma or lymphangioma circumscription - wart like fluid filled blisters. It happens on the skin where the infection (cellulitis) has damaged the superficial lymphatics. It can dissipate over time, but may persist for along time.

Please don’t be tempted to puncture any of the little blisters- you will be back to square one with infection in no time!

Keep it moisturised, and wear compression , if you have it, making sure not to scratch the area as you apply compression.

Lm92 profile image
Lm92 in reply to Lynora

You know, looking at pictures of lymphangioma, it reminds me a lot of what these spots look like. I'll bring that up to the dermatologist. The one difference is that they're not grouped together in large numbers as in most of the pictures I've seen. Thank you so much for your reply.

bigleg profile image

Hi Lm92 - your challenge sounds horrible. I have lived with my bigleg since a teenager and now 72. Over the years I have only experienced a couple of issues with the skin. Around 15 years ago my husand and I went Low Carb High Fat and only real food - all sugars out of the diet and only traditional fats - no processed foods or drinks (the principles as discussed at The skin on my big leg is amazing despite very heavy compression every day. So I do recommend watching what you eat to help the skin. On the topic of sugar, here in the UK we have a brilliant GP who has produced some wonderful Sugar Equivalence Infographics to enable us to see the the impact of certain foods on our blood sugar. A few months ago they were endorsed by NICE, our national body that sets treatment guidelines. You can see then here I hope you are able to resolve.

Lm92 profile image
Lm92 in reply to bigleg

Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer. I will most definitely keep that in mind. I was lucky to have good skin on my affected leg as well until night developed my first bout of cellulitis 3 years ago. Unfortunately, here in the part of the US where I live, lymphedema resources are few and far between. I had to educate my doctor and the therapist he sent me to is not certified to work with lymphedema patients so she basically guesses at her therapies and learned lymphatic massage from YouTube! I'm still thankful because it's better than nothing. I do sometimes we I lived in the UK. It seems their lymphedema therapies are leaps and bounds beyond what's available here.

bigleg profile image
bigleg in reply to Lm92

For many years it was a lonely journey with the big leg. Another huge help to me was a therapist that over a 6 month period we managed to reduce the leg by 5 1/2 litres with massage. She was brilliant. I was just fortunate that she lived close by where I was living at the time - now I can't see any registered close by and she has retired. The other improvement is that we can get the compression garments through the NHS, which for most of my life was impossible both NHS or health insurance and compression garments are very expensive. It sounds as if you have a caring doctor who is trying to find a way to help you. I hope you get the skin back under control.

Lm92 profile image

I was able to upload a photo of the spots in question for anyone interested in having a look.

Lynora profile image
Lynora in reply to Lm92

Those are lymphangiomas. Keep the skin moisturised, and don't be tempted to 'pop' them!

DeadfootMo profile image

I am covered with this as a result of eczema scarring and when my eczema flairs up so do all the old scar tissues - they blister up, look like they are full of fluid and they are not. They sometimes break, bleed and rescab as they can be very itchy and sore. Then when the condition eases the skin becomes very dry and no matter how much hydromol I use as a moisturiser it soaks it up as if the skin has become porous. The cycle can start again as a result of the dryness. However, the worst state is when I have used a greasy based ointment such as betnovate, as this seals in the heat and although it forms a protective layer, as eczema means to boil, guess what - those rotten old scar tissues rise again to the surface. Sometimes a few become so itchy I have been known to dig them out and then I have pitting skin. Eczema has I swear over the years driven me mad, as it makes my skin feel tingly, hot itchy and sore all over. Occasionally, I have had to take courses of steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, and sleeping pills just to get some sleep at night. This condition is at its worst at night and the worst thing you can do is have a warm to hot shower or bath at night, plaster yourself with ointments etc as I guarantee you will spend the night scratching it all off. Certain parts of my body such as my arms do get really bad and for these I do wet wrapping for three of four days at a time. Viscopaste it is fantastic and I only wish it was possible to do this for my entire body, what I mean here is my lower back and bum, right round to my stomach and abdomen, Upper legs, upper chest, boobs etc plus arms. Incidently if you ever get eczema on your feet or hands it can resemble frog spawn, Little hard pimples just like your picture. Severe Eczema is not helped by having Lymphoedema as the skin texture can change for two reasons 1) the eczema and 2) the oedema. If the skin thickens it can develop into Lichen Planus and this is a permanent disfigurement of the skin.

BedfordBoy profile image

Hi Lm92, I have the same on my left leg. I've had problems with the leg ever since I was bitten by some mysterious insect 13years ago in Cyprus.

Although I have had a few bouts of cellulitis and lymphedema over the years, it's only my last episode of cellulitis in May that brought them out. I joined this site because I'll find out more about my condition here than from my GP!

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