What is Wells’ syndrome?
Wells’ syndrome is a rare disease which also goes by the name "eosinophilic cellulitis." In this disease, itchy, burning, red, and inflamed areas can form anywhere on the skin. The inflamed areas can look like a skin infection called cellulitis, but there is no true infection present.
Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections. If the body over-produces eosinophils or the eosinophils are over-active, they can cause inflammation that damages the skin.
How common is Wells’ syndrome?
Wells’ syndrome is very rare. Fewer than 100 cases have been reported worldwide. It usually affects adults, but has also been found in children. Men and women are equally affected.
What causes Wells’ syndrome?
The cause of Wells’ syndrome is not known but it is thought to possibly be an autoimmune disorder. In such diseases, a person’s immune system mistakenly views healthy body tissue as an invader and starts to attack and destroy it. Most cases are random, but the disease may run in some families.
Other possible triggers include the following:
- Arthropod bites and stings, including mosquito bites
- Viral infections
- Giardiasis (an intestinal infection)
- Fungal infections
- Reactions to certain drugs or metals
What are the symptoms of Wells’ syndrome?
Symptoms usually begin with an itchy or burning sensation in one or more areas of skin, followed by redness and swelling. These areas are often painful. Sometimes, several new blisters or nodules are the first sign of the condition. Other possible symptoms include ring-shaped patches or itchy welts.
Over time, the skin changes color to brown-red, then blue-gray, then greenish-gray. Within a matter of weeks to months, the patches usually heal without any lasting effect, although they may come back again at a later time.