Eosinophilic fasciitis is a syndrome in which muscle tissue under the skin, called fascia, becomes swollen, inflamed and thick. The hands, arms, legs, and feet can swell quickly. The condition is very rare.
The disease may look similar to scleroderma but is not related.
The cause of eosinophilic fasciitis is unknown. In people with this condition, white blood cells called eosinophils, build up in the muscles and tissues. Eosinophils are linked to allergic reactions. The syndrome is more common in people ages 30 to 60.
Symptoms may include:
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle weakness
- Tenderness and swelling of the skin on the arms, legs, or sometimes the joints (most often on both sides of the body)
- Thickened skin that looks puckered
Exams and Tests
Tests that may be done include:
- CBC with differential
- Gamma globulins (a type of immune system protein)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Muscle biopsy
- Skin biopsy
Corticosteroids and other immune-suppressing medicines are used to relieve symptoms. These medicines are more effective when started early in the disease. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also help reduce symptoms.
In most cases, the condition goes away within 3 to 5 years. However, symptoms may last longer or come back.
Arthritis is a rare complication of eosinophilic fasciitis. Some people may develop very serious blood disorders or blood-related cancers, such as aplastic anemia or leukemia. The outlook is much worse if blood diseases occur.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder.
There is no known prevention.
Lee LA, Werth VP. The Skin and Rhematic Diseases. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 43.
Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, professor of medicine, division of rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.