Home :: Skin Disorders :: Mastocytosis


Skin growths can be present at birth or develop as you move into adulthood. Some are non-cancerous (benign) and some of them are cancerous (malignant). This is why it is important to get all skin growths checked out by a doctor or dermatologist from the onset.


Mastocytosis is the name given to a group of disorders that causes too many mast cells to form in an individual’s body; mast cells are a key component of the body’s immune defense system. Mast cells also play a role in the healing process of an injury to the skin. Mastocytosis comes in two forms: cutaneous and systemic. Cutaneous or urticaria pigmentosa as it is called is the most common and it affects the skin. Systematic are the group of mast cells that collect in the body’s tissues and affect such major organs as the liver, spleen, small intestine, and bone marrow.

Who can get them?

Mastocytosis can affect both children and adults alike. However, cutaneous mastocytosis, the skin form, seems to affect mostly children.

What can cause them?

The exact cause of Mastocytosis is unknown. Since mast cells are present naturally in an individual’s body, it is uncertain what causes too many mast cells to develop.

How does it happen?

Mastocytosis is caused by the presence of too many mast cells.

Where do they appear?

Mast cells can be found in the skin, the lining of the stomach, intestine, and in cartilage and tendons. Mastocystosis can be found in the skin, or in internal organs, such as the liver or the spleen.

What are the symptoms?

Mast cells have been found to have a role in the body’s immune system. They go to the area of the body where they are needed, and release chemicals such as cytokines, and histamines. When too many of these cells come together and release these chemicals, it will cause itching, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting skin lesions, and in some cases can lead to shock or low blood pressure.

How can it be diagnosed?

Doctors can diagnose a cutaneous Mastocytosis by conducting a skin biopsy. By examining the skin, doctors will be able to see the appearance of too many mast cells. The systemic Mastocystosis is found by doing an exam of the individual’s bone marrow or by doing a bone scan. Doctors can also check the individual’s blood and urine. Since mast cells produce histamine, if your blood or urine shows a high level of this chemical, it can serve as a confirmation of have too many mast cells and thus having Mastocystosis.

What treatments are available?

Doctors have several options in treating Mastocytosis, and may have to use more than one treatment in order to attack the various symptoms of the aliment.

Antihistamines are used to treat the itching of the skin. Antihistamines block the histamines, which are released by the mast cells. Antihistamines can also be used to treat the ulcers, and stomach conditions. They also have a positive affect on treating low blood pressure. Topical steroids are used on the skin lesions that can also develop. Corticosteroids can be used topically, inhaled, or systemically as an effective way to reduce inflammation associated with Mastocytosis

Anticholinergics are used to relieve any intestinal cramping that may occur with the onset of this skin aliment.

In extreme cases, if Mastocytosis turns out to be cancerous or linked to a blood disorder, steroids or chemotherapy may be used to fight the disorder. Doctors are also working on drugs that may block the chemical released from the mast cells.

Our skin serves as our biggest protection from heat, light, pain and injury. They are times however, when our body does not function the way it is suppose and causes an overload in the system. Mastocytosis is one of the those cases, where the body in doing its normal work produces too many mast cells, and begins to cause damage. It is important that if any individual experiences any of the above mentioned symptoms to visit their doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible. While the itching of the skin and be annoying it can lead to more serious side effects that need to be treated immediately.

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