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Woman Breaks Out In Web-Like Purple Rash Due To Cold Weather

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Woman Breaks Out In Web-Like Purple Rash Due To Cold Weather

A 70-year-old woman in America broke out in a large, web-like purple rash, after cold weather triggered a rare blood disease.

The woman, from upstate New York, visited the doctor after feeling dizzy for a week, having also developed the strange rash that had spread across her entire body.

Details of her case were published in a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, which explained her symptoms started after the onset of a viral respiratory tract infection two weeks earlier.

The woman's condition was triggered by the freezing −9°C temperatures in upstate New York. Credit: Flickr/Brian Holland
The woman's condition was triggered by the freezing −9°C temperatures in upstate New York. Credit: Flickr/Brian Holland
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After being examined, doctors found the woman had a 'generalized, macular, non-blanching rash in a reticular pattern with purplish discolouration consistent with livedo reticularis'.

According to Speciality Medical Dialogues, livedo reticularis is a skin condition thought to be caused by spasms of the blood vessels and poor circulation near the surface of the skin.

It makes the skin look mottled and purplish, resembling a net-like pattern with distinct borders.

Interested to find out the cause, Dr Konika Sharma and Dr Anush Patel from the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, took blood samples.

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The blood samples. Credit: NEJM
The blood samples. Credit: NEJM

While blood is usually a deep red, they found the woman's was almost clear. Her red blood cells, which carry oxygen, had clumped together (spontaneous agglutination).

The patient was diagnosed cold agglutinin disease, a rare autoimmune disease that affects people when their blood is exposed to cold temperatures, meaning proteins that normally attack bacteria attach themselves to red blood cells, clumping them together.

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The woman's condition had been triggered by the cold weather in upstate New York, where temperatures had dropped to −9°C.

She was kept in hospital for a week, being given blood transfusions while being kept warm. After her treatment, the ratio of red blood cells to total blood volume more than doubled.

Credit: NEJM
Credit: NEJM

While she still had the rash when she was discharged, her anaemia and dizziness subsided within the week.

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The NEJM report said: "A diagnosis of cold agglutinin disease, a form of acquired autoimmune hemolytic anemia, was made, a condition that may have been exacerbated by the patient's recent viral infection along with the cold weather in upstate New York, where the temperature was 15°F (−9°C) at the time of her presentation.

"The patient was warmed and treated with blood transfusions and rituximab for one week.

"At the time of hospital discharge, she had a hematocrit of 30% and a reduction in dizziness, but the rash persisted."

Featured Image Credit: NEJM

Topics: News, US News

Jess Hardiman
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