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Have you noticed that you often get rashes and bruises on your skin? Maybe you’re wondering if it’s just a typical skin rash or an early-stage symptom of leukemia known as the red dots on skin leukemia. Leukemia affects a person’s blood and bone marrow, so skin-related issues like petechiae leukemia and bruising are prevalent symptoms in people diagnosed with the disease.
What do leukemia red spots look like, and how would you know if it’s leukemia or not? Here we’ll discuss leukemia and the different skin-related problems you need to be aware of. With this, you’ll know when it’s time to see a doctor for medical help.
What Is Leukemia?
Before tackling leukemia’s tiny red spots on skins, you must first be familiar with the disease. On the 2022 report, there are 60,650 new cases of leukemia in the US, with 24,000 deaths. It’s a cancer disease that forms in the bone marrow, where blood cells are made. The white blood cells protect the body from infections, but leukemia causes your body to produce large numbers of damaged white blood cells, crowding out and replacing healthy blood and marrow cells.
Leukemia is grouped based on how fast the disease develops and the type of blood cells involved. The two groups and types of leukemia are:
- Acute Leukemia is when the bone marrow cells are immature and are unable to function normally. There’s also a rapid increase of abnormal cells, which means the disease gets worst quickly.
- Chronic Leukemia is a slow increase in the number of abnormal cells in the body. The cells are also more mature and can still perform some of their normal functions.
Types of Leukemia:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia or AML
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL
- Chronic Myeloid Leukemia or CML
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or CLL
Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Of course, you’re curious about what causes leukemia and its common symptoms. Here we also added the diagnosis used to confirm if a person has the disease to answer all your questions.
It’s believed that leukemia was developed because of the mutations in the DNA of the blood cells in the body, but it still needs more research. That’s why the exact cause of leukemia is still unknown. However, there are genetic and environmental factors associated with the development of leukemia, such as:
- Exposure to chemotherapy or radiation to treat other types of cancers
- Genetic disorders such as down syndrome
- Blood disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome also called preleukemia.
- History of leukemia in the family
- Smoking and
- Long-term exposure to radiation and chemicals such as benzene
The type and severity of leukemia symptoms you might get will depend on what leukemia type you have. Also, some patients do not experience any symptoms initially, so it becomes too late for them to realize how severe their disease is. Here are the warning signs of leukemia that you should look out for:
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Persistent fatigue
- Fever and chills
- Often get dizzy and find it hard to breathe
- Frequent and easy bruising and bleeding
- Rapid weight loss
- Swollen lymph node
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Excessive sweating
- Petechiae and other leukemia cancer rash
When it comes to diagnosing leukemia, it involves examining blood cells and bone marrow. The test done for leukemia includes:
- Physical exams
- Imagining test
- Flow cytometry and
- Laboratory test
What Are Those Leukemia Red Dots on the Skin?
Now that you know the vital things about leukemia, it’s time to discuss petechiae leukemia spots and other skin symptoms. Bruises quickly appear when there’s a low level of platelets that help your body to form clots to stop abnormal bleeding. What does leukemia bruising look like? It’s like a typical bruise, but there are more than usual and occur in unusual places like your back.
The petechiae cancer spots are pinpoints of blood caused by broken small blood vessels under the skin. It’s also referred to as leukemia blood spots. Leukemia patients don’t have enough blood cell platelets to close the damaged blood vessel causing the leukemia red spots to appear. What do leukemia red spots look like?
It resembles a common rash, but petechiae will not turn white or pale when you press on it. These petechiae cancer spots vary in color, and it looks like red dots on skin leukemia in patients with fair and light skin tones. But the leukemia red dots turn into a darker shade like purple in brown on darker skin tones. The petechiae leukemia spots usually occur in:
It’s important to know that petechiae is not only caused by leukemia but also fungal, viral, and bacterial infections like sepsis, strep throat, and scarlet fever. Engaging in activities that cause excessive fatigue can also tear blood vessels. Antidepressants, sedatives, and blood thinner medications can lead to petechiae.
Leukemia cutis is another example of leukemia’s tiny red spots on skins. This skin symptom occurs in end-stage leukemia, where white blood cells or neoplastic leukocytes begin to travel through the layers of the patient’s skin and cause lesions. In end-stage leukemia, the patient gets weaker, and symptoms become more severe, so it’s essential to surround yourself with someone who can help you physically and mentally.
When a patient enters this stage, they develop more symptoms such as:
- Experience confusion about the place, people, and time
- Less food and fluid intake
- Always sleeping and hard to wake up
- They tend to be anxious, restless, and lonely
- The back of their throat will start collecting mucus
- Experience irregular heart rate
- Eye and breathing problems
- Urine and stool become darker
These leukemia spots come in red, brown, yellow, blue, gray, or purple but are difficult to see in darker skin tones. Besides the small bumps, you may also notice firm or soft nodules. There are no treatments for leukemia cutis, but if the chemotherapy or other medicines for leukemia are effective, these leukemia red spots will disappear.
Other Leukemia Cancer Rash That May Appear on the Skin
Here are the other skin problems and changes associated with leukemia.
Since leukemia affects your immune system, it is harder to protect the body from fungal and other infections. Fungal infections affect cancer patients differently and for different reasons. It depends on the type of leukemia and the treatment used. But what’s more concerning is that these red dots on skin leukemia caused by fungal infections can become life-threatening.
These fungal infections are:
- Ringworm – also called “tinea.” It normally appears on the skin in a circular rash and is often itchy. You can see the red, pink, and brown patches on the back, neck, chest, and arms.
- Nail Infections – a fungal infection that may cause your nail to change color, crack and fall off.
- Candida – is a fungus that lives on the skin and usually occurs in the mouth, gut, throat, and vagina. In most cases, it does not cause serious problems in healthy people, but if the immune system is damaged by leukemia, it will lead to leukemia cancer rash.
Folliculitis is the red dots on skin leukemia found on scalps, face, neck, and shoulders. It’s an infection that targets the hair follicles caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or ingrown hairs. Depending on the cause of this infection, you might notice small fluid-filled bumps and experience itching, but folliculitis can be treated by cream and oral medications.
Sweet’s Syndrome Rash
When a patient asks how much their disease has progressed, doctors look at the leukemia red spots on their skin. Sweet’s Syndrome is also referred to as “acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis.” A condition where abnormal cells enter the skin that affects people with various health conditions, including leukemia. This red and pinkish rash that looks like insects’ bites is manageable and may not need treatment, but for leukemia patients, it can lead to:
- Changes in skin color
- Plaques and nodules in different sizes and patterns on the skin
- Lesions, ulcers, and blisters
- Joint pain
- Inflammation of the eye
Another skin rash that may occur in leukemia patients is vasculitis. Vasculitis is caused by the inflammations of small blood vessels and capillaries in the body. Unlike other leukemia spots, this is more of a purple spot or lesions in the skin but also looks like clusters of petechiae cancer spots. Its size ranges from 1 mm to 1 cm in diameter, and you will need to see a doctor if skin ulceration, fever, and body pain occur.
Morbilliform Drug Eruption
Like any other medication that can cause an allergic reaction, drugs used to treat leukemia causes leukemia red dots to appear. It’s called morbilliform drug eruption, a typical immune system reaction to prescripted medicines. This skin rash usually occurs 1 to 2 weeks after taking the drug but can last up to a week after the medications are finished. If a patient needs to retake the same medicine, the rash will return after 1 to 2 days.
These leukemia spots look similar to measles, starting on your torso and spreading throughout your body. It’s pink and red in color and noticeable to any skin tone. The other allergic reactions include papules or flat macules. Additionally, unlike the petechiae cancer spots, they change in color and become pale when you add pressure, then turn back to pinkish red after pressing.
Other than medications, some of the treatments for leukemia are:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy and
- Stem cell transplant
These cancer treatments also cause rash, dry skin, and other skin changes. Chemo rashes are the most well-known skin-related issues that are associated with leukemia. These leukemia red dots resemble acne and commonly appear on the neck, face, scalp, and chest. It has a burning and stinging sensation that will require a doctor’s prescription to relieve pain and irritation.
When To Seek Consultation
If you noticed that you have the same skin problems above, it’s still best to see a doctor. While we define these skin-related problems more of a leukemia cancer rash, keep in mind that these rashes and bruises have other causes, such as:
- Eczema (Allergic, Seborrheic)
- Flea Bites
- Contact Dermatitis (Food, Fragrances, Drug, Botanicals, Acids, etc.)
- Chicken Pox
- Kawasaki Disease
- Tick Bite
You can also try home medications such as creams or oatmeal baths, but the rashes might be linked to a more severe condition if the conditions persist. If that’s the case, you will need to seek a consultation with your doctor. You should also consider reaching out to a doctor if:
- The red patches turned purple.
- You bruise more easily than before.
- You started having frequent oral problems like mouth sores.
- The rashes or bruises became too painful.
- You developed other leukemia symptoms such as fatigue, bone pain, fever, difficulty in breathing, and dramatic weight loss.
However, it’s different with people that are already diagnosed with leukemia. Once a patient gets leukemia red spots, they need to consult their doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will then examine and prescribe the proper medication to treat the tiny red spots on skin leukemia.
Now, you’re familiar with leukemia, its symptoms and treatment, and the different skin rashes you need to be aware of. We also tackled what leukemia bruising and rashes look like. Remember that those skin rashes are common and usually come and go, so you don’t need to worry too much but remember the signs when it’s the right time to call a healthcare professional.
If you have been diagnosed with the disease and looking for the highest quality care and services, All American Hospice is here for you. We are a group of skilled healthcare professionals offering individual care for pain and symptom management and preparing a care program specially designed to meet your needs. Call us for a free consultation to answer all your questions about your diagnosis.