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What is Erythromelalgia?


Erythromelalgia is a rare illness that mainly affects the feet and, less normally, the hands (extremities).  It is marked by extreme, burning pain of affected extremities, severe redness (erythema) and increased skin temperature which may be occasional or almost continuous in nature.  Erythromelalgia is also known as Mitchell’s disease or erythermalgia.

What are the symptoms of erythromelalgia?

  • Flare-ups that often begin with a mild itch and gradually changes to burning pain
  • painful area becomes red, swollen, warm and sometimes sore to touch

The pain is more frequent in the evening and at night and can come and go.  The area can be cooled or elevated to reduce the pain.  Erythromelalgia can range from mild to quite severe.  When the hands and feet become hot or when the weather is warm, it can develop worse (for example, wearing socks and shoes).  Severe erythromelalgia can impair your quality of life and can also result in chronic discomfort.  Additionally, it may obstruct walking and other activities.

What causes erythromelalgia?

Erythromelalgia is believed to be brought by changes in the small nerves that regulates sweating and alter in how blood flow is controlled through the skin.

Another reason also is having too many platelets, which are blood cells that help blood to clot when bleeding, or by conditions that may harm the nerve supply to the blood vessels.  Other causes are:

  • lupus
  • diabetes
  • polycythaemia vera (too many red blood cells)
  • some diseases of the brain as well as nervous system

How is erythromelalgia diagnosed?

Your doctor will need to know how it appears and feels during an attack in order to diagnose erythromelalgia.  To show your doctor, it can be helpful to take pictures of your skin when it is in a flare-up.

In order to observe what happens, your doctor may also ask you to place your hands or feet in warm water.

It’s possible that a blood test will be required if you have erythromelalgia.  This is to determine whether having too many platelets or blood cells is the root of your erythromelalgia.

Are you suffering from this condition? At The Chelsea Clinic, we can help. One of our podiatrist can assist and then recommend what treatments are best to get you back on track. ✅ Podiatrist South Kensington
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at +44 (0) 207 101 4000📞



We hope you have a feetastic day! 👣☀️

-The Chelsea Clinic and Team

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