Eosinophilic Fasciitis (cont.)

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What causes eosinophilic fasciitis?

Although the cause seems related to an inflammatory response, the agent(s) that trigger the response are not yet identified. In the 1980s, there was a toxic product in some lots of L-Tryptophan, an over-the-counter sleep aide that was available at the time, which caused illness similar to eosinophilic fasciitis.

What are symptoms and signs of eosinophilic fasciitis?

Eosinophilic fasciitis causes inflammation of the tissues beneath the skin as well as sometimes in the skin. This leads to symptoms of swelling, stiffness, warmth, and pain of the involved area. Occasionally, there is discoloration of the skin over the tissues affected and the skin can appear thicker than normal.

The muscle of the involved area can become weakened. Muscle enzyme blood levels can be found to be elevated, particularly and peculiarly, the enzyme aldolase more commonly than the enzyme creatine phosphokinase (CPK).

How is eosinophilic fasciitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of eosinophilic fasciitis is made with a skin biopsy of a full thickness of involved deep skin tissue. The biopsy site is usually small, and the doctor numbs the area before the tissue is removed for study by a pathologist, dermatologist, or trained technician. In addition, the thickened fascia can be detected by MRI.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/16/2014