Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are skin ulcerations common in those with Buerger's disease?"
I have Buerger's disease and recently my fingertips turned very dark Is this something that happens?
Buerger's disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, is a disease of small blood vessels in which they become inflamed and occluded. This usually begins in the fingers and toes. It may begin as nodules under the skin along the blood vessels. Usually, early on there is Raynaud's phenomenon, where the blood vessels intermittently occlude and then open up, leading to cycles of white or blue fingers or toes that then pink up again when blood flow returns. This may be painful. As the disease progresses, the episodes of ischemia (lack of blood flow) to the fingers and toes becomes more severe, and this may lead to permanent tissue damage. Early on, this usually manifests as ulcers on the toes or fingers, but eventually it can lead to gangrene and massive tissue death with the need for amputation of fingers and toes. Fortunately, this disease is very strongly linked to tobacco use. This means that if you quit smoking, the symptoms will dramatically improve. You have to quit completely however; sometimes as few as 1 or 2 cigarettes a day are enough to keep the symptoms going. Talk with your doctors to help you manage these ulcers and a smoking cessation plan.
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