6 Skin Conditions Associated with Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis affects your gastrointestinal tract. The same inflammation flares up the intestine, affecting other body parts and organs, including the skin. It is a bowel flare that manifests in mouth sores and rashes on the skin.

Ulcerative Colitis Induced SIX Skin Conditions

Ulcerative colitis-caused flares will affect your skin condition in some ways.

Erythema Nodosum

It is a rash on the legs containing painful raised bumps. When ulcerative colitis is active in your boy, you see these rashes and bumps grow along with fever and joint pain. To deal with these painful skin conditions, you may take pain relievers, and steroids both come in oral and as injectables. Doctors prescribe potassium iodide to treat the bumps.

You can apply a cool compression to manage the discomfort and inflammation. You can keep your legs in an elevated position to reduce swelling. Another medically approved aid is compression socks and stockings.

Consult a doctor before using compression socks not to be used by people with vascular disease. It takes about six weeks for the erythema nodosum symptoms to go away. The traces of the bruises can be visible on the skin for months. For 20% of cases, there are chances of recurrence of the rashes.

Pyoderma Gengrenosum

It is a severe skin condition that begins with visible rashes of red or purple blisters or bumps and gradually spreads throughout the body. The blisters keep growing and merge to form ulcers like deep open sores. These ulcers appear in the shin or ankles, making it difficult for people to walk.

The ulcers can show up in other areas of your body. These rashes can grow around an injury or surgical wound. The pyoderma gangrenosum skin disorder can cause fever, joint pain, and general malaise.

You can treat the disorder with skin medications, such as steroid and anti-inflammatory ointments and creams, injectable steroids directly into the ulcers, steroid pills, and immune-suppressing medicines as a part of whole-body therapy.

Aphthous Stomatitis

These are tiny mouth ulcers, white with a red base, also known as canker sores. You can spot them between the gums and lower lips or on the sides, or underneath your tongue. With ulcerative colitis, these ulcers get over one centimeter in size and bother you for over two weeks.

You can experience them during severe ulcerative colitis flare-ups and reduce them when you treat the bowel disease. The large and painful canker sores do not heal as long as the new ones develop. The doctors treat them with an antibacterial mouth rinse, a corticosteroid ointment, and solutions to help reduce irritation and pain.

Pyoderma Vegetans

Doctors link this rare skin condition to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). You can see them as blisters, plaques, and patches around the groin and under the arms. It is a disorder more prevalent in men than women.

Another condition similar to pyoderma vegetans is pyostomatitis vegetans. The difference between the two is the latter occurs in the mouth. Pyoderma vegetans disorder can run concurrently with ulcerative colitis flare-ups. Doctors may recommend a topical steroid to treat them.

Sweet’s Syndrome

Another rare skin condition linked to ulcerative colitis occurs more in women (between 30 and 50 years) than men. Sudden fever with multiple rashes of red or bluish-red bumps and spots develop on the arm, leg, face, neck, or entire torso.

The patients do not feel well and get joint pain, tiredness, fatigue, headaches, and eye issues. The condition is similar to that of the erythema nodosum. Doctors identify the difference through medical examinations and specific skin tests.

This skin condition typically needs steroid treatment. The recurrence of the skin condition may occur even after the treatment, unlike ulcerative colitis, which has fewer chances for recurrence after completing the treatment.

Finger Clubbing

It is a specific skin condition underneath your nails. The skin beneath the fingernails gets thick, causing the fingertips to become rounded and flat, resembling a drumstick tip. Your fingernail may have down slopes. Ulcerative colitis patients with chronic pulmonary disease (CPD) or who smoke a lot could have a higher risk of this skin condition.

Finger clubbing will not cause any health issues. Doctors do not offer any treatment for finger clubbing. However, it is advisable to see a doctor if you feel any changes in the skin condition or fingernails to check the underlying existence of ulcerative colitis.


You cannot do much to prevent ulcerative colitis-induced skin conditions. However, doctors link it to flares. Better to treat the underlying causes of ulcerative colitis under a doctor’s supervision. Stress can cause flares leading to skin issues.

Managing your stress well with yoga, practicing deep breathing, daily 30 minutes of exercise, and keeping hygienic of skin can go a long way toward the prevention of ulcerative colitis.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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