Medical News Today: What you should know about anuria

Anuria is when the kidneys stop producing urine. The condition is usually the result of disease or damage to the kidneys.

Urination is a vital process and the result of the kidneys filtering and removing waste products, fluids, electrolytes, and other substances the body no longer wants or needs.

The substances that are waiting to be expelled back up in the body and are not removed if the kidneys cease working and urination stops. This blockage can cause other health problems and be life-threatening if not treated.

Anuria is diagnosed when the kidneys are producing less than 500 milliliters (mL) of urine each day. A usual daily urine output is between 1 to 2 liters for an adult.

What are the causes of anuria?

cross section of kidneys
Anuria occurs when the kidneys stop producing urine.

Anuria is mostly caused by problems in the kidneys, but it can also result from problems in the heart.

Some of the causes of anuria include:

  • Diabetes: When a person’s blood sugar is consistently high, such as with uncontrolled diabetes, it can result in diabetic ketoacidosis, and damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys. This can cause acute renal failure and poor or absent urine production.
  • Kidney stones: These stones can cause blockages in the kidneys or ureters, the tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the urethra where it is passed out of the body. These blockages mean the urine is unable to exit the body.
  • Kidney failure: Acute kidney failure occurs when the kidneys stop functioning and are unable to filter urine anymore.
  • High blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. Without treatment, high blood pressure can lead to permanent kidney damage and anuria.
  • Tumors: A growth on or near the kidney can cause a blockage and keep urine from passing out of the body.
  • Heart failure: When a person has heart failure the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. Processes in the body kick in if there is not enough fluid in the blood vessels. One of these is the kidneys ceasing to make urine to hold on to extra fluid.

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Signs and symptoms

Anuria or not urinating is a symptom itself and not a medical condition. Sometimes, a person may also have signs of the condition that is causing the poor urine output.

The symptoms of kidney disease can include:

  • swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, face
  • rash or itching of the skin
  • flank pain in the back or side
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue

Symptoms of heart failure can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the legs
  • fatigue or dizziness
  • nausea
  • poor appetite
  • high heart rate
  • coughing or wheezing

Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:

  • excessive thirst
  • dry mouth
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • fruity odor on the breath

Anyone experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, or who has stopped urinating, should see their doctor immediately, or proceed to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.

How is anuria diagnosed?

urine sample being handed to doctor
To help diagnose anuria a doctor may request a urine sample to check for blood or sugar in the urine.

Diagnosing anuria and its underlying cause starts with a thorough medical history and interview when a doctor will ask about the person’s medical history and medication use.

The doctor will also ask about symptoms and changes in urination, including:

  • swelling
  • fatigue
  • changes in appetite
  • blood in the urine
  • frequency of urination
  • quantity of urine passed
  • abdominal or flank pain

The doctor may suggest additional testing, such as blood testing for kidney function, urine testing for blood or sugar, a biopsy of the kidney or imaging tests, including X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans.

Hospitalization may be needed until a person’s kidney function has been restored or the cause of the anuria is determined.

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If urine output cannot be restored, it can be life-threatening. The condition causing the anuria can also be very dangerous.

The primary complication of anuria is kidney damage or failure. This can be permanent and can cause someone to need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Anuria can be fatal if not treated, so prompt treatment is vital if someone suspects anuria.

What are the treatment options?

If anuria is a sign of an underlying condition, treatment depends on what that underlying condition might be.

Diabetes management

mature woman checking her blood sugar levels
It is important for those with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar.

People with diabetes should be careful to control their blood sugar levels. It is important to monitor blood sugar as directed, follow the prescribed diet and exercise regimen, and to take all medication, as directed.

Regularly following up with the doctor can also help to identify quickly when changes need to be made, and it can minimize the risk of complications.

Lifestyle changes

Making positive lifestyle changes is also very important for someone with high blood pressure. The doctor should recommend diet and exercise changes and may suggest medication to help keep blood pressure low. Stress relief and getting enough sleep are also necessary.

Removing kidney stones or tumors

Someone with an obstruction in the kidneys, such as from a kidney stone or tumor, will need to have it removed. This may mean surgery, medication chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to shrink or remove the tumor or stone.

Kidney disease management

Kidney disease is treated with dialysis, which is a procedure that removes excess fluid, electrolytes, and waste products from the blood. Dialysis is performed in an outpatient clinic, or the hospital if needed, 3 to 4 times a week.

There are several ways to have dialysis. Normally, the blood is removed, passed through a special filter to take out the waste products, and then reinfused back into the body.

Someone with kidney damage and who is on dialysis may be a candidate for a kidney transplant. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of surgery because of the risks and long-term care necessary afterward.

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The outlook for someone with anuria depends on several factors, including its underlying cause, how quickly it is diagnosed and treated, and the person’s overall health and wellness.

Because of the potential severity of anuria and the conditions associated with it, it is best to see the doctor as quickly as possible if there are any changes in urine output.

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Medical News Today: What you should know about alopecia universalis

When people hear the term “hair loss,” they often think of the hair on the top of the head. But people who have a condition called alopecia universalis lose all their hair, not just hair on the head.

The word alopecia means hair loss. A person with alopecia universalis loses all their hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes, facial hair, body hair, and hair on the head.

But, new treatments may be effective in helping some people regrow hair. Those dealing with hair loss may find mental and emotional support to be particularly helpful in improving quality of life.


Man with alopecia universalis, completely bald.
Alocpecia universalis is characterized by complete loss of hair.

Alopecia universalis is thought to be an advanced form of another condition known as alopecia areata.

Researchers think that alopecia universalis is an immune system disorder, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles.

This attack makes the hair fall out.


However, the immune system may not be the only cause of alopecia universalis. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation say alopecia areata can run in families. But, unlike many inherited conditions, both parents must contribute specific genes to pass alopecia areata on to their children.

This is known as a polygenic disease, which means “multiple genes.” Because it requires genes from both parents, many people with any form of alopecia areata, including alopecia universalis, will not pass the condition to their children.


The environment may also play a role. Identical twins only get alopecia areata together about half of the time, according to a report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

This suggests that environment, combined with genetics and the immune system, could ultimately trigger the hair loss. This environmental trigger remains unknown and could be an illness, allergy, hormones, toxins — or any combination of these.

Does stress cause alopecia universalis?

Alopecia universalis has not been proven to be related to stress. It is possible that extreme stress, combined with genetics and immune system problems, could trigger alopecia areata and universalis. No medical studies have proven this link, however.

Hair loss caused by stress is known as telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss is temporary and not related to immune or genetic factors. Usually, telogen effluvium is caused by physical or mental stress, such as severe illness, surgery, childbirth, emotionally stressful events, extreme diets, and medications.

The hair loss occurs several months after the stressful event and often resolves itself within a few months. Telogen effluvium is not related to alopecia universalis.


Alopecia universalis may start as alopecia areata, affecting just one or two small patches of hair.

The hair loss can happen very suddenly, producing bald spots in a matter of days. As it progresses to alopecia universalis, hair loss will continue to spread until there is no hair left on the head or body.

The total hair loss that occurs with alopecia universalis usually has no other symptoms.

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How is it diagnosed?

Alopecia universalis may be diagnosed with a physical exam and other medical tests. A healthcare professional or dermatologist may be able to diagnose the condition with a medical history and by checking for loss of hair throughout the body.

Sometimes a doctor will recommend a biopsy to confirm the disease and to check for other skin conditions. They may also order blood tests to look for other health problems.

Treatment options

Doctor looking at medical records.
Treaments will be chosen based on the medical history of the patient.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say no therapy has been found to cure this condition. The treatment chosen often depends upon a person’s age, medical history, and severity of their hair loss.

Though there is no reliable treatment, some medications that may work include:

  • Diphenylcyclopropenone: A topical drug that has been successful in treating alopecia areata in some people.
  • Squaric acid dibutylester: This is also used to treat alopecia areata.
  • Steroids: These help calm down the immune response and inflammation.
  • Cyclosporine: An immunosuppressive drug, in combination with a steroid called methylprednisolone.

Emerging treatment options

Some new treatments for alopecia universalis and its related disorders may be on the horizon.

The following studies offer hope for hair regrowth, though none have yet been shown to be effective in clinical trials:

  • One man experienced a total regrowth of his hair after he was treated with a psoriasis drug known as tofacitinib citrate, according to a report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The discovery was made by accident, as the man was using the drug to treat psoriasis, not his alopecia. After 8 months of treatment, he once again had a full head of hair.
  • A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that a female teenager with alopecia universalis had success with a topical medication called Ruxolitinib. This medicine is most commonly used to treat a bone marrow disorder. After several months of applying the medication to her eyebrow area, the female experienced significant hair regrowth of her eyebrows.
  • A topical medicine that contains natural herbal ingredients showed promise for some hair regrowth, according to an analysis in Hair Therapy and Transplantation.

Can people regrow their hair?

When a person has alopecia universalis, their hair follicles are still alive and able to regrow hair. In fact, some people may find that the condition goes away on its own after a few months or years.

But in some cases, a person may experience permanent hair loss. Experts are not sure why some people experience success with treatment or a spontaneous recovery while others do not.

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Living with alopecia universalis

Woman with alopecia universalis stretching before exercising outdoors.
Support groups and staying active may help those living with alopecia universalis.

Some people experience emotional and mental health issues after losing their hair. Some people find that a wig or hairpiece helps them feel better about their appearance.

Others may choose not to use wigs. Whatever a person’s preference, sun protection is important.

Using sun-protective head coverings, scarves, and hats is recommended for everyone and is especially important for those without hair on their heads.

Support groups may be helpful to help people cope with hair loss. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation says nearly 150 million people worldwide have some form of alopecia areata. And, about 1 in 4,000 people in the world has alopecia universalis.

People with alopecia universalis may find that online or in-person support groups are a valuable resource with which they can share their alopecia experience.


A cure has yet to be found, but new possibilities for treatment may offer hope for those with alopecia universalis. Recent statistics show that only 10 percent of people with alopecia universalis will experience a full recovery, so connecting with others through support groups is a valuable part of living with the condition.

Alopecia universalis does not pose any threat to a person’s physical health, but emotional health may be affected. Exploring support groups, clinical trials for new treatments, and organizations for those with hair loss may be helpful.

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Medical News Today: Coconut oil: Healthful or unhealthful?

Coconut oil has been all the rage for some time. Endorsed by a number of celebrities as a superfood, this tropical-smelling fat — often liberally applied to our skin and scalps — is a favorite of many. But the question remains: is it healthful or not?
coconut oil
Are the health claims that adorn coconut oil based on fact or fiction?

Fat suffered a bad reputation for a long time and we were told to opt for low-fat options instead. But the tides turned eventually, prompting us to see fats in a new light.

Our lives became simpler. We learned how to avoid bad (saturated and hydrogenated) fats and eat good (unsaturated) ones to keep our tickers and arteries healthy.

Then the humble coconut came along in 2003, and the waters were once again muddied. Seen by some as a superfood but recently labeled by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of the pool of unhealthful fats, the controversy goes on.

So, what are the scientific facts behind the coconut oil hype, and what are the latest developments?

Secret ingredient: ‘Medium-chain’ fatty acids

Many of the purported health claims surrounding coconut oil stem from research published in 2003 by Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D. — a professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, NY.

Prof. St-Onge found that in overweight women, consumption of medium-chain fatty acids — such as those found in coconut oil — led to an increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation compared with women who ate long-chain or saturated fatty acids.

But Prof. St-Onge used a specially formulated fat diet in her study, not coconut oil, and she never claimed that coconut oil was the secret to the results seen in her research.

The rumor mill had begun to spin and coconut oil became widely hailed as a superfood.

In fact, a 2009 study involving 40 women showed that 30 milliliters of coconut — consumed daily for a 12-week period — increased good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, accompanied by a reduction in waist circumference.

As more studies have followed, the picture became less clear-cut.

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AHA and WHO advise to limit consumption

Despite the number of studies casting coconut oil in a favorable light, the AHA issued an advisory note on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease in June 2017, recommending that we replace saturated fats with more healthful unsaturated fats. This includes coconut oil.

As the World Health Organization (WHO) state, “[U]nsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola, and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee, and lard).”

The reason? Saturated fat is bad for our cardiovascular health. However, there is another twist to this fascinating tale.

While low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is generally thought of as “bad” cholesterol, the HDL type is widely accepted as being its “healthful” counterpart.

Yet in 2017, we covered three studies that potentially turn what we know about fats and cholesterol on its head. The first strudy found that saturated fats may not “clog” our arteries after all, while the second one uncovered a link between “good” HDL and mortality.

The third study, published in November 2017, showed that high levels of HDL may not protect us from heart disease, as previously thought.

What is the latest?

One of the problems with the controversy surrounding coconut oil is the lack of good-quality, large-scale human studies. But adding to the body of evidence is a new study by the BBC’s “Trust me I’m a Doctor” team.

Together with Dr. Kay-Tee Khaw, a professor of clinical gerontology, and Dr. Nita Gandhi Forouhi, a professor of population health and nutrition — both at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom — the team compared the effects of coconut oil, olive oil, and butter in 94 human volunteers.

Each study participant was asked to consume 50 grams of one of these fats daily for 4 weeks. The results came as a surprise.

Those who consumed coconut oil saw a 15 percent increase in HDL levels, while this number only stood at 5 percent for olive oil, which is accepted as being good for our cardiovascular system.

If we are working on the premise that HDL is good, then these results speak in favor of coconut oil.

It is important to note, however, that the results of this study have not been peer-reviewed and must be treated as preliminary.

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Coconut oil: The verdict

So, is coconut oil healthful or not? As with many research areas, there is no straightforward answer.

If you are looking to lose weight, it’s worth bearing in mind that coconut oil is very high in saturated fat and one tablespoon contains 120 calories.

If it’s cardiovascular health that you are after, the official party line drawn by the AHA and WHO still puts coconut oil on the list of fats to limit. But who knows, maybe the tables will turn, and new guidelines will emerge.

In the meantime, coconut oil can be part of a healthful, balanced diet, if consumed in moderation.

However, it’s worth looking out for coconut oil in packaged foods, especially partially hydrogenated coconut oil. This is a source of trans fats, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say increase the risk of heart disease.

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Medical News Today: Turmeric for IBS: Does it work?

Beyond being a staple of Asian cuisine, turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine to treat conditions from indigestion to depression. More recently, the spice has been associated with the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.

This article will review the evidence behind the claims that turmeric can help symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, discuss how it may be used, and if there are any risks.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric thrown into the air. May help with IBS
Turmeric may have healing properties that derive from its curcumin compound.

Turmeric has been used to treat conditions, including colds, digestive problems, and infections. Its potential healing properties come from curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory compound it contains.

Turmeric has recently attracted attention for its potential to reduce IBS symptoms. IBS is a common disorder of the digestive system that causes symptoms, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.

The cause of IBS is unknown, and there are currently no available cures. Symptoms of IBS are typically managed using medicine and lifestyle changes that tend to involve changes in diet.

Including turmeric as part of a healthful diet-based approach to managing IBS symptoms is an easy step to take.

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Does it work?

One study found that curcumin had a positive impact on gastrointestinal functioning in rats. The authors of the study suggested that their findings could have implications for the use curcumin in treating IBS symptoms. However, more studies are needed in humans to establish this conclusively.

A pilot study conducted in 2004 found that human participants with IBS who took 2 tablets of turmeric every day for 8 weeks reported reductions in abdominal discomfort and improved bowel movement patterns.

However, this study lacked a control group, and the authors concluded that more research was needed to rule out the placebo effect and other variables.

Turmeric has been associated with benefits for other disorders of the digestive system, including ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that causes diarrhea and abdominal pain.

One study in 2015 found that adding curcumin to the regular treatment routine had a positive impact on the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

There are some positive findings relating to the use of turmeric in reducing IBS symptoms, and these effects may also extend to other digestive disorders. However, more research is required to determine whether turmeric can have any real benefits for the treatment of IBS.

Side effects and safety

Turmeric root and powder for IBS
Turmeric can be purchased as a root or powder, and is also available as a supplement.

Curcumin is considered safe to consume for most people in doses ranging from 500 miligrams (mg) to 12,000 mg per day, for short-term use only. More studies are needed to determine toxicity associated with long-term use.

Some side effects can occur with regular turmeric use, including:

  • abdominal pain
  • digestive problems
  • nausea
  • blood-thinning

It is currently unclear whether curcumin supplements are safe for pregnant women, so it is important for these women to speak to a doctor before trying any supplements.

People with diabetes should also avoid consuming turmeric, as it can lower blood glucose levels. It may also interact with some medications, such as blood thinners or diabetes drugs, so people should be sure to talk to their doctor before taking curcumin supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate supplements, so the safety and contents of turmeric products cannot be guaranteed.

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How to use turmeric

Turmeric is commonly used to flavor foods from savory curries and soups to sweet cakes and smoothies. It can be purchased as a powder or in its root form. It is also possible to take curcumin supplements, which are normally available in health food stores.

Unlike turmeric in other forms, the supplements are highly concentrated doses of curcumin, so people should be sure to read the instructions on how much is safe to consume.


Turmeric has shown promise in initial studies for its positive effect on some IBS symptoms. In most cases, including turmeric or curcumin supplements, as a part of a healthful diet, will not pose any health risk for people with IBS.

Whether turmeric has any real benefits for IBS symptoms remains unclear, and further research in this area is required.

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Medical News Today: Scientists create new molecule to combat pain

Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have created an RNA-mimicking molecule that blocks the series of pain sensitization reactions that normally follow an injury.
two scientists in lab
Could this ‘decoy molecule’ help to create better drugs for pain?

They believe that what they have discovered about their “decoy molecule” will pave the way for a new class of drugs that prevent pain at the outset without risk of addiction.

A study paper published in the journal Nature Communications describes how the “synthetic RNA mimic reduces pain sensitization in mice” by blocking the creation of pain-signaling proteins.

“We’re manipulating one step of protein synthesis,” explains senior study author Dr. Zachary Campbell, whose laboratory specializes in researching the molecular mechanisms of pain.

“Our results indicate that local treatment with the decoy can prevent pain and inflammation brought about by a tissue injury,” he adds.

Need to tackle the opioid crisis

Around a third of the United States population — which is an estimated 100 million people — is affected by chronic pain, “the primary reason Americans are on disability.”

“Poorly treated pain causes enormous human suffering,” explains Dr. Campbell, “as well as a tremendous burden on medical care systems and our society.”

Another major concern is the rapid rise in prescriptions for opioid pain drugs that has occurred in recent years, which has been accompanied by increases in accidental overdoses as well as hospital admissions for addiction to the medications.

National U.S. survey data that was collected in 2015 shows that nearly 92 million people had used prescription opioids during the previous year. This figure includes around 11.5 million people who “misused” the drugs, the majority of whom said that they had obtained them to relieve pain.

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Pain relief that avoids the brain

Opioids are the “most widely used and effective” drugs for treating pain. However, they have a major disadvantage: they interact with areas of the brain that deal with reward and emotion.

The work that Dr. Campbell and his team are doing could lead to pain drugs that do not affect the brain.

They suggest that their study shows that “development of chronic pain requires regulated local protein synthesis” at the site of injury.

The decoy molecule that they have devised acts in molecular mechanisms that involve nociceptors, which are specialized cells at the site of injury that communicate pain signals to the brain.

Following an injury, messenger RNA molecules translate code held in DNA into instructions for making proteins that signal pain.

By mimicking RNA, the decoy molecule interrupts the process that makes the proteins. Injected into the site of injury in mice, it reduced “behavioral response to pain,” say the researchers.

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RNA-mimicking molecule slow to degrade

“When you have an injury, certain molecules are made rapidly. With this Achilles’ heel in mind,” says Dr. Campbell, “we set out to sabotage the normal series of events that produce pain at the site of an injury.”

“In essence,” he adds, “we eliminate the potential for a pathological pain state to emerge.” The new molecule that he and his colleagues have devised also overcomes a major challenge of RNA-based medicine: that RNA compounds metabolize very quickly.

“Molecules that degrade quickly in cells are not great drug candidates,” explains Dr. Campbell, adding, “The stability of our compounds is an order of magnitude greater than unmodified RNA.”

He notes that their study is the first to create a “chemically stabilized mimic to competitively inhibit RNA to disrupt RNA-protein interactions.”

He and his team suggest that their findings also improve our understanding of these interactions and open up a completely “new area of science.”

The ongoing opioid crisis highlights the need for pain treatments that don’t create addictions. Hopefully, this is a step in that direction.”

Dr. Zachary Campbell

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Medical News Today: 10 rashes caused by ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the large intestine and the rectum. It can also cause skin problems.

This article explores how skin conditions are related to ulcerative colitis (UC), which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

It also considers how to reduce skin problems during a flare-up and when to see a doctor.

Skin conditions associated with UC

There is a range of different skin conditions that are associated with UC. These are explored below.

1. Erythema nodosum

young woman sitting on a bench scratching her arm
There are a number of different skin conditions associated with ulcerative colitis.

Erythema nodosum is the most common skin issue for people who also have UC. Up to 10 percent of people with UC may develop erythema nodosum.

Erythema nodosum causes tender red nodules to appear on a person’s arms or legs. These nodules may look like bruises.

In people with UC, this skin rash tends to come up during a flare-up and go away when UC is in remission.

2. Pyoderma gangrenosum

According to this 2012 review, pyoderma gangrenosum is the second most common skin problem that may affect people with UC.

This skin rash begins as a cluster of blisters on the shins, ankles, or arms. It often spreads and can form deep ulcers. If not kept clean, this may become infected.

Researchers believe this condition is caused by a problem with the immune system that may be linked to the cause of UC.

3. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by a problem with the immune system. It leads to red, patchy skin, covered with a build-up of dead skin cells.

Many people with UC and other types of IBD are also affected by psoriasis.

This 2015 study found that there were some genetic links between the genes that cause IBD and those that cause psoriasis. More research is needed to understand these connections fully.

4. Hives

Hives are red raised spots that may appear as a rash anywhere on the body. They form due to a reaction in the immune system.

Sometimes people react to the medication they are taking for UC, which can cause chronic hives.

5. Acne

A 2011 study found a link between taking a drug intended to treat cystic acne (isotretinoin) and developing UC. More research is needed to understand this link better.

6. Bowel-associated dermatosis-arthritis syndrome

Bowel-associated dermatosis-arthritis syndrome (BADAS) is a condition where small bumps form on the upper chest and arms, in addition to other symptoms. These bumps can then form pustules, causing discomfort. BADAS may also cause lesions on the legs.

Researchers do not fully understand the cause, but they think it may relate to inflammation as a result of bacteria in the gut. Having IBD makes it more likely a person will develop BADAS.

7. Pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans

Pyodermatitis vegetans and pyostomatitis vegetans are two skin conditions that are linked.

The former causes red pustules that burst and form scaly patches in the armpit or groin. The latter involves pustules in the mouth.

The two conditions are typically grouped together and called pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans (PPV).

This condition is associated with UC, though it is rare. Symptoms will typically occur after a person has had UC for a few years. Often, however, people are not diagnosed with UC until after a doctor has diagnosed PPV.

8. Sweet’s syndrome

Sweet’s syndrome is another condition that is linked to UC flare-ups.

When a person has Sweet’s syndrome, small red or purple bumps on the skin develop into painful lesions. They often form on the upper limbs, face, and neck.

9. Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a skin condition that destroys the pigment-producing cells in the skin. Vitiligo may lead to white patches forming anywhere on the body.

Researchers think that vitiligo is caused by an immune disorder. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), around 20 percent of people with vitiligo also have another immune disorder, such as UC.

10. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis (hypersensitivity vasculitis) occurs when small blood vessels under the skin become inflamed and die. The inflammatory reaction leads to the development of purple spots on the skin of the legs or ankles, called purpura.

The condition results from inflammation and is linked to UC flare-ups. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis typically goes away when UC is in remission

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How are UC and skin rashes linked?

young woman asleep on the sofa
Extreme tiredness is one of the major symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

UC can be a painful and uncomfortable inflammatory condition that affects both the large intestine and the rectum.

When a person has UC, small ulcers develop in the lining of their colon. These can produce pus and bleed.

The main symptoms of UC are:

  • ongoing problems with diarrhea
  • blood, mucus, or pus in stools
  • the need to pass stool often
  • extreme tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

Ulcerative colitis flare-ups

Although UC is a long-term condition, a person with UC may go weeks or months without symptoms. This is called remission.

Periods of remission may be followed by flare-ups, where the person experiences many UC symptoms.

During a flare-up, a person with UC may experience symptoms in addition to those that affect the digestive system. These include:

  • rashes or patches of red, swollen skin
  • swollen or painful joints
  • mouth ulcers
  • red, irritated eyes

Why do skin rashes appear during flare-ups?

The inflammation in the body that causes UC can also affect the skin. This can lead to swollen and painful skin rashes.

According to a 2015 study, skin problems affect up to 15 percent of people with IBD, which includes people with UC.

The medication that a person might take to control their UC symptoms may also cause skin problems.

Reducing skin problems during a flare-up

People with UC often experience skin problems during flare-ups, so the best way to manage skin conditions related to UC is to manage UC itself.

A doctor can help a person with UC find the best methods for their symptoms and lifestyle.

When flare-ups occur, the following may help to reduce skin problems:

  • taking corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • eating a well-balanced diet to promote skin health
  • keeping the affected skin clean to reduce infection risk
  • covering the affected area with bandages
  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers

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When to see a doctor

person lifting up their lip to show mouth ulcer
Mouth ulcers are one of the non-digestive symptoms that may be experienced during a UC flare up.

If a skin complaint is particularly troublesome, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and the right treatment.

If skin conditions are recurring or getting worse over time, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor about the best way manage them.

They can also help a person with UC find ways to manage their condition as a whole.

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Medical News Today: Which Fitzpatrick skin type are you?

Fitzpatrick skin typing is a way of classifying different types of skin. What does a person’s Fitzpatrick skin type tell us about their skin?

Making up nearly 16 percent of a person’s body mass, the skin is the body’s biggest organ. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage a person’s skin and may lead to signs of premature aging and skin cancer.

This article explores the Fitzpatrick skin typing system and also discusses how to protect each of the six different Fitzpatrick skin types from sun damage.

What are Fitzpatrick skin types?

Group of upturned palms showing different colors on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale
The Fitzpatrick skin types are defined by how the skin reacts to the sun.

Also known as the Fitzpatrick skin phototype, the Fitzpatrick skin type system was developed in 1975. It remains a useful way to determine skin type and skin cancer risk.

This 2013 study found that Fitzpatrick skin typing was most effective when a dermatologist carried out the assessment. Self-reporting a skin type was found to be less accurate.

The Fitzpatrick skin types were determined by interviewing many people about how their skin reacted to the sun.

There were clear trends in the data researchers gathered, which allowed them to identify six different skin types. It is important to remember that as these groups are based on anecdotal evidence.

A person may find their skin does not fit completely into any one category. If self-assessing, Fitzpatrick skin typing should be used as a guide rather than a definitive skin type.

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Types 1–6

The six Fitzpatrick skin types and associated skin, hair, and eye color are explored in the sections below. These skin types are numbered according to how much melanin is present in the skin.

Skin with very little melanin has little protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. As such, it is likely to burn.

Melanin pigment is a dark brown pigment that occurs in a person’s hair, skin, and irises. It causes the skin to tan in response to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Skin high in melanin is likely to tan, rather than burn. When the skin burns, it increases the risk of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 people in the United States will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

Being able to classify a skin type according to how much melanin it contains helps predict how likely it is to burn.

How to protect each skin type

If a person understands which Fitzpatrick skin type they have, they can make an informed choice about how to protect their skin.

Skin protection advice for each Fitzpatrick skin type is explored below.

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Types 1 and 2

Woman applying sunscreen on skin.
Those with type 1 or type 2 skin should apply sunscreen before going outside.

People with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 have a high risk of sun damage and signs of aging on the skin. They are also at risk of developing skin cancers, such as melanoma.

According to the American Cancer Society, fair skin, freckling, and light hair is a skin cancer risk factor. These characteristics align with skin types 1 and 2, meaning those with these skin types need to take extra precautions.

To protect their skin, a person with skin type 1 or 2 should:

  • always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above
  • avoid sun exposure
  • sit or walk in the shade when possible
  • wear a wide-brimmed hat for protection
  • wear sunglasses that block out harmful UV rays
  • wear protective clothing if out in the sun for extended periods

These protective measures should reduce this risk of a person developing skin cancer and can help the skin stay looking younger for longer. However, it is still essential to check for any abnormalities.

A person with skin type 1 or 2 should do an all-over body check of their skin every month for any skin abnormalities.

Types 3 to 6

If a person has a skin type 3 to 6, they are still at risk of developing skin cancer. However, their risk is lower than for those with skin types 1 or 2.

It is still important for those with skin types 3 to 6 to use sunscreen regularly. To protect their skin, a person with skin type 3 to 6 should:

  • monitor and limit sun exposure
  • ïwear a wide-brimmed hat for protection
  • wear sunglasses that block UV rays
  • wear protective clothing if outside for extended periods
  • wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above

As with other skin types, a person with a skin type between 3 and 6 should still check their skin all over for abnormalities every month.

It is also important for those with darker skin types to look out for acral lentiginous melanoma. This is a dark spot on the skin, which may develop on the palms on a person’s hands or the soles of their feet.

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All skin types

Using artificial tanning beds and machines is harmful to all skin types. This 2013 study suggests that if a person uses an artificial tanning bed before they reach the age of 35, they are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma later in life.

For this reason, it is important to avoid artificial tanning beds regardless of skin type.

When to see a doctor

Things to talk to a doctor about include:

  • new moles
  • existing moles that are getting bigger
  • the outline of a mole becoming blotched
  • a spot changing color from brown to black
  • a spot becoming raised or developing a lump in the middle
  • the surface of a spot changing texture and becoming rough or ulcerated
  • moles that are itchy or tingly
  • moles that bleed or weep
  • spots that look unlike any other spots


Fitzpatrick skin types are a useful way of assessing skin type in order to understand the best way to protect skin from the sun. Avoiding sun damage helps to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

It is always important to check for any early signs of skin cancer on a monthly basis, regardless of skin type. This is especially true for those who live south of the equator, where the sun is stronger and more damaging to the skin.

If a person has any concerns about skin cancer or has spotted an abnormality on their skin, they should speak to a doctor.

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Medical News Today: Popular morning sickness drug ‘ineffective,’ study reveals

Morning sickness can put a real strain on pregnant mothers. And when diet or non-medicinal treatments fail, a drug that contains doxylamine and pyridoxine is often prescribed. However, the drug’s effectiveness has been called into question.
morning sickness remedy
Morning sickness can range from mild to debilitating and affects around 80 percent of pregnant mothers.

In 2017, researchers working at the University of Toronto in Canada and the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, also in Toronto, Canada, reanalyzed a pivotal doxylamine and pyridoxine clinical trial from the 1970s and made a fairly surprising finding: the data had substantial flaws.

Digging even deeper, Dr. Navindra Persaud — from the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital as well as the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto — and colleagues reanalyzed another clinical trial using an updated version of the drug, this one from 2010.

The recent trial was part of the reason that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the popular morning sickness drug known as Diclegis.

Commenting on his findings, Prof. Persaud told me, “The medication seems to be ineffective based on the results of this trial. I was shocked to learn this about a commonly prescribed medication.”

The results of Prof. Persaud’s analysis are now published in the journal PLOS ONE.

‘Only FDA-approved’ morning sickness drug

Diclegis is the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnancy. According to its manufacturer Duchesnay, it has been prescribed to 33 million women worldwide.

In Canada, where the drug is known as Diclectin, it is prescribed at least once for every two births.

I asked Prof. Persaud why he decided to look into the drug. “I used to prescribe this medication,” he explained. “I was taught to prescribe it. The medication was recommended as the first line medication for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.”

When I looked carefully at the clinical practice guidelines that recommended this medication, they did not cite supporting studies. So I tried to find the basis for the recommendations. It was surprisingly difficult to obtain information about this commonly prescribed drug.”

Prof. Navindra Persaud

When the results of the clinical trial were initially published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2010, the study authors concluded, “Diclectin […] is effective and well-tolerated in treating nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.”

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Drug ‘significantly better than placebo’

The study involved 261 pregnant women, all of whom completed a 2-week course of daily Dicletin or placebo treatment. As the authors explained in the paper, “Diclectin led to significantly greater improvement in NVP [nausea and vomiting of pregnancy] symptoms as compared with placebo.”

This was based on a drop in what is known as the PUQE score. PUQE stands for pregnancy-unique quantification of emesis/nausea, with a score of 3 meaning no symptoms and a score of 15 being the most severe.

Pregnant mothers in the placebo group saw a 3.9 drop in their PUQE score from 8.8 at the start of the study, while those in the treatment group saw a 4.8 point drop down from 9.0.

In addition to the PUQE score, the team also saw a greater improvement in the global assessment of well-being score, less time taken off work, and fewer women seeking alternative treatments when they received the drug.

More pregnant mothers asked to keep taking the drug after the study finished than the placebo.

The key finding remains the PUQE score.

But while the difference seen in the clinical study may be statistically significant, Prof. Persaud uncovered that the results were not in line with what the clinical trial set out to achieve.

‘Expected difference in PUQE score of 3’

Citing the original clinical study report and the FDA review of the study, Prof. Persaud explains that the difference in PUQE score between the drug and the placebo groups was expected to be 3 points — a far cry from the difference reported in the clinical trial.

He told me that “[he] was […] surprised that important information about the trial was hidden until now. Although some results were published in 2010, the earlier reports did not mention the fact that a difference of 3 points on the 15-point symptom scale was prespecified as the minimal important difference (or the smallest difference that a patient would deem as important).”

I asked him why he thought the FDA decided to license the drug in light of the results not meeting the expected differences.

While the review by the FDA was very thorough, the review does not address the fact that the 3-point difference between groups was not found in the trial.”

Prof. Navindra Persaud

In his paper, he explains, “The FDA summary review indicated a ‘small, but statistically significant improvement'” and noted that “although the treatment effect is small, there are no other FDA-approved treatments for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.”

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Placebo just as good as drug?

Commenting on the results of the trial and his reanalysis, Prof. Persaud explained, “In this trial, women given a placebo had large improvements in symptoms over 2 weeks. By the end of the 2-week trial, women given a placebo had symptom scores around 4 and the lowest possible score on the symptom scale is 3.”

“So the results of this study indicate that no studied treatment could have had a substantial benefit over the placebo,” he added.

With millions of women worldwide having taken the drug over the years, could it be the placebo effect that causes the improvement in symptoms?

Explaining his take on the situation, Prof. Persaud said, “We may find that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may be like the common cold: it is common, it causes substantial suffering, it can occasionally cause serious complications, and it does not have a highly effective treatment.”

So, is it likely that the drug will be withdrawn from the market based on Prof. Persaud’s findings? He doesn’t think so.

“It is very unusual for medications to be removed from the market because of ineffectiveness,” said Prof. Persaud. “Medications are withdrawn when they are found to be harmful after approval but even this is quite rare. So it is unlikely that this medication will be withdrawn.”

What to do when morning sickness strikes

I am no stranger to morning sickness, having endured a seemingly never-ending bout last summer during my second pregnancy. Here is what Prof. Persaud told me about other treatment options.

“[…] [R]ecommended treatments include P6 acupressure, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, and other nausea treatments such as metoclopramide.” However, he did add the following caveat: “None are proven to be highly effective.”

Prof. Persaud also pointed me in the direction of a 2015 systematic review examining treatments for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. While some — such as ginger, chamomile, vitamin B-6, and lemon and mint oil — were effective for some women, the “[…] review found a lack of high-quality evidence to back up any advice on which interventions to use.”

“[…] All of those results […] should be taken with a grain of salt,” Prof. Persaud said, echoing the review’s findings.

If you are looking for more information about coping with morning sickness, check out our handy guide “Morning sickness: 10 tips to relieve it.”

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Medical News Today: All you need to know about vaginal boils

A vaginal boil is a pus-filled lump that develops outside the vagina as a result of a blocked hair follicle or oil gland.

While boils can occur in any area of the body, they are commonly found outside the vagina, on the labia, or in the pubic area.

Some people may use the term boil and abscess interchangeably to describe a vaginal boil. However, abscesses are usually deeper skin infections than boils.

Some skin conditions can be similar to a vaginal boil. While most will heal on their own, others may require medical attention to avoid a worsening infection.

What are the causes?

woman looking concerned due to vaginal boils
Vaginal boils may be caused by many different conditions.

There are a variety of conditions and factors that can cause vaginal boils.

Infectious organisms

Boils can be caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Chlamydia trachomatis.

Skin conditions

One skin condition that can cause vaginal boils is folliculitis, which occurs when bacteria infect a hair follicle.

This infection is often a side effect of irritation caused by shaving or waxing hair from the pubic area. A bump may be painful and start small but can grow larger and into a boil.


Another common cause of a vaginal boil is a Bartholin gland cyst. This type of cyst is caused by an infection of the Bartholin glands, which are located under the skin near the vaginal opening. These glands can become blocked, causing a cyst or round, hard bump to form. If the cyst becomes infected, it can cause a boil to form.

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections and genital piercings can also be underlying causes of vaginal boils.

Women with oily skin or those with thicker pubic hair growth are more at risk for vaginal abscesses, according to The Royal Women’s Hospital.

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Home remedies

There are a range of home remedies that a woman can try. These include:

Applying warm (not hot) compression

Run a soft washcloth under warm water and apply the warm compress to the vaginal boil for 10 to 15 minutes. This may cause the boil to leak some pus. A person should not squeeze the boil.

Using a sitz bath

A sitz bath can be purchased at most drugstores as a plastic ring that can be filled with warm water and placed over a toilet bowl. Another option is to sit in a shallow bath filled with lukewarm water.

Keeping the area clean and dry

Wash the boil with antibacterial soap, clean the soap off using clean water from a spray bottle, and dry the affected area gently with a soft washcloth. Avoid rubbing or touching the boil. Always wash the hands with soap and water before cleansing or applying any topical antibiotic ointments to the area.

Wearing breathable underwear

Clean, cotton underwear can allow the skin to “breathe.” Women should avoid wearing tight underwear that can rub against the boil and inflame it.

Taking over-the-counter pain relievers

If the boil is mildly painful, a woman can take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If these medications do not control the pain, the woman should see her doctor.

Home treatments to avoid

Just as some at-home treatments can be beneficial, there are others that can be irritating or cause further damage.

A woman should never attempt to prick or squeeze a vaginal boil on her own. If the area is draining, she should cover it with a clean, dry bandage.

She should also avoid using any lotions, baby wipes, or ointments that are highly fragranced.

When to see a doctor

If the boil fails to respond to at-home treatments or over-the-counter medications or seems to be getting worse instead of better, a woman should seek medical attention.

A woman should also seek treatment if she observes any signs of infection, such as blood-streaked pus or the boil or surrounding skin is hot to the touch. The woman must also see her doctor if she develops any signs of a systemic infection, such as fever.

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Medical treatments

Draining the boil is effective for the most severe boils. A doctor may apply an antibiotic ointment and apply a sterile bandage to allow the boil time to heal.

Boils that are deeper in the skin or show signs of cellulitis, a bacterial infection affecting the inner layers of the skin and the fat layer, may require treatment with oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed depends on the nature and severity of the person’s infection.

Can they be prevented

Maintaining a healthy weight may help to avoid vaginal boils
Maintaining a healthy weight is recommended to help prevent vaginal boils.

Changing underwear frequently and practicing excellent hygiene can help to prevent vaginal boils.

Keep the area clean by washing the body and vaginal area at least once a day with antibacterial soap.

Regular hand-washing can also help to reduce bacterial exposure.

However, practicing careful hygiene does not guarantee that a woman will not develop a vaginal boil.

Other preventive tips include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent additional skin folds developing, which can increase the risk of infection.
  • Refraining from sharing personal items including towels and underwear can reduce the risk of infection.
  • Changing into clean underwear after exercising can help prevent infection.
  • Avoiding highly fragranced soaps, dyes, douches, and powders because these can irritate the tissues in the vaginal area and increase the risk of infection.

If a woman experiences chronic vaginal boils, she should talk to her doctor about further preventive options. For example, a doctor may prescribe birth control pills to reduce the amount of oil-producing hormones that can contribute to infections.

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Ideally, a boil will shrink in size over the course of a week. If a women’s vaginal boil does not improve with at-home treatments, she should seek medical attention to keep the infection from spreading more deeply.

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Medical News Today: Dopamine deficiency: What you need to know

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