When it comes to lung health, you’re probably already aware of the symptoms that indicate a problem, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. However, few individuals recognize that certain lung conditions can cause non-respiratory symptoms, which can even manifest themselves on the skin. Experts have released four shocking skin symptoms that could indicate one of several deadly lung diseases, ranging from lung cancer to pulmonary fibrosis.
Bumpy reddish-purple color
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disorder with unclear causes that can affect the lungs, and certain skin symptoms can indicate it. The Mayo Clinic states, “Sarcoidosis is a condition marked by the accumulation of microscopic collections of inflammatory cells (granulomas) in any region of your body—most commonly the lungs and lymph nodes,” but it can also affect the “eyes, skin, heart, and other organs.” If left untreated, pulmonary sarcoidosis can lead to pulmonary fibrosis, or lung tissue scarring.
Sarcoidosis patients may develop red or “reddish-purple” lumps on their skin, most commonly on the ankles and lower legs. They may also develop ulcers or sores on the nose, cheeks, and ears, as well as darkish patches of skin and skin growths surrounding scars or tattoos.
Bumpy, fast-growing growth
Although lung cancer frequently has no signs until it is advanced, specialists believe that once the cancer has spread, some people may experience skin problems. “Unusual, fast-growing lumps, especially bleeding ones on the head, neck, and upper torso, can be metastases,” explains Viktoria Kozlovskaya, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh. Typically, these pimples are firm, painless, and “reddish” in color.
These lumps are very infrequently one of the early indicators of lung cancer. According to a 2015 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, “Although cutaneous metastasis usually occurs in the terminal stage of the disease, it may occur rarely concomitant with the diagnosis and may sometimes present as the first sign of the sickness.”
A scaly, itching rash
Dermatomyositis is an uncommon condition that creates a rash on the skin, as well as swelling and muscle inflammation. It “may be linked to cancer, including lung cancer” in adults, according to Kozlovskaya.
Lung illness is also a consequence of dermatomyositis, which means that the disease can affect the lungs even if there is another underlying reason.
A painful or itchy red or purple rash in areas of high sun exposure, red or purple discoloration and swelling in the upper eyelids, red or purple spots on the joints, calcium deposits under the skin, scaly or rough patches of skin, and swelling or redness around the fingernails are all skin symptoms of this condition.
If you bruise easily, there could be several reasons for this, including a blood clotting issue or a blood disorder. The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes, however, that it could also be a sign of Cushing syndrome, a condition in which cancer cells produce ACTH, which causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
“Some lung tumors produce hormone-like chemicals that penetrate the bloodstream and cause difficulties in distant tissues and organs,” according to the American Cancer Society. “These conditions are known as paraneoplastic syndromes. These disorders might sometimes be the initial signs of lung cancer.”
If you detect any skin symptoms that aren’t clear or that you think might be related to your lung health, talk to your doctor.