Hypoparathyroidism and Your Skin
People with hypoparathyroidism may have problems with their skin, in addition to the more serious muscular and nervous system symptoms of the disease.
Here is information about how hypoparathyroidism can affect the skin, and possible treatments that may help.
What is hypoparathyroidism?
Hypoparathyroidism can have various causes. The most common is damage to, or accidental removal of, the parathyroid glands — four small glands attached to the thyroid gland — during neck surgery.
Others causes include damage from radiation treatment, an autoimmune disease, low levels of magnesium, or genetic mutations.
In all instances, the body does not produce enough parathyroid hormone (PTH), which leads to too little calcium in the blood. The low levels of calcium are what cause the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism.
What skin issues are common?
Common skin symptoms of hypoparathyroidism include dry, rough, itchy, and scaly patches, and coarse hair growth, or hair loss.
The disease may also result in chronic candidiasis — a yeast infection in the skin, hair, and mucosal linings of body openings such as the nose and mouth.
How does hypoparathyroidism cause skin problems?
Researchers think that, like other disease symptoms, low levels of calcium are responsible for skin problems in hypoparathyroidism.
Calcium is important for the health and functioning of keratinocytes, the cells of the outer skin layer. Keratinocytes adhere strongly to each other and form an antimicrobial barrier to help fight off infections. They are also important for wound healing. Research has shown that calcium gradients in the skin are important for the growth and differentiation of keratinocytes.
Treatment options that are available for this disease’s other symptoms may also ease its skin symptoms. These include oral calcium supplements, high doses of activated vitamin D to increase calcium absorption from food, thiazide diuretics to reduce calcium loss through the kidneys, or magnesium supplements.
Another treatment approach is hormone replacement therapy such as Natpara, which can be prescribed in combination with supplements to patients who do not respond to supplements only. The aim is to replace the missing PTH to more naturally balance calcium levels in the body.
Topical treatments such as lotions, wet dressings, or corticosteroid creams can specifically address skin issues and may help to alleviate discomfort due to dry, itchy, and scaly skin. Your doctor may also prescribe antifungal medications for candidiasis.
Last updated: Oct. 23, 2020
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