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Skin Changes

Fatigue is a common symptom of Sickle Cell

Skin Changes

It is very common in sickle cell patients to develop yellowing of the skin referred to as jaundice. This is caused by the buildup of a molecule called bilirubin in the blood. This bilirubin is a product of red cell breakdown, and because sickle red blood cells have a shorter lifespan, it builds up quicker than the body can get rid of it.

  • Treatment/Prevention: While this is not a disease, it can cause some psychological and social stress. Medications such as hydroxyurea can reduce the number of sickled cells. Maintaining a healthy diet and minimal alcohol use can also promote a healthy liver and natural clearing of the bilirubin

The increased risk for clotting in sickle cell individuals can also cause decreased blood flow to the skin and also back to the heart. This may increase the healing time for scrapes and damage to the skin, especially in the legs. In some cases the wound may not heal and can form an ulcer. This looks like an open wound that may be painful, swollen and itchy with possible pus coming from the wound.

  • Treatment/Prevention: You can help prevent this from occurring by giving any wound proper care, which involves properly wrapping it and using topical ointments that do not irritate the skin.
    • Wearing properly fitting shoes can also reduce risk of forming an ulcer
    • In the case that there is not proper healing, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible, as there is risk that the wound may become infected if left open
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