What Is Mastocytosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Have you heard of mastocytosis. This condition causes itchy bumps on the skin, bone pain, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal issues. In addition, it increases the risk of possible allergic response. If left untreated in certain cases this condition can even lead to death. Let us learn about mastocytosis in detail.

What Is Mastocytosis?

Mastocytosis is health condition where the mast cells (certain type of immune cells) under the skin or in intestine, bones or other organs. What Is Mastocytosis?

To properly understand mastocytosis we need to acknowledge what are mast cells.

What Are Mast Cells?

Mast cells are type of white blood cells located over the body. Mast cells are high in number in lungs skin and gastrointestinal tract. Being a part of body immune system the function of muscles is to detect virus or germ and set an allergic response against the foreign microorganism. Mast cells release a chemical known as histamine that protects the body against infections and germs. In addition muscles are also involved in other functions of body such as bone growth wound healing and formation of new blood vessels.

How Common Is Mastocytosis

Mastocytosis is a rare health condition. According to the estimated reports it occurs only in one in every 10000 individual. It is non-contagious health condition.

Types Of Mastocytosis

Mastocytosis is primarily of two type:

Cutaneous Mastocytosis

Affects only the skin and is more common in children. The mast cells are accumulated in the skin leading to brown or red lesions that itch. It is not a life threatening condition but those with significant symptoms are more at the risk of developing severe allergic reaction, which can prove to be fatal.

Systemic Mastocytosis 

It mainly occurs in adults and affects the part of body other than skin such as bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract and lungs. If systemic mastocytosis is aggressive it can be life threatening.

Systemic mastocytosis can be of two types:

Mast Cell Leukaemia – It is aggressive form of disease where large number of mast cells are found in bone marrow and the blood.
Mast Cell Sarcoma – It happens when the tumour made up of mast cells is formed somewhere in the body.

What Are The Symptoms Of Mastocytosis

Mastocytosis can effect multiple organs and present variety of symptoms. Most common symptom that develop when mast cells release histamine are:

Rash – Mastocytosis may cause various types of rash. Sometimes it lookS like red spot on the skin and other times it may look like freckles.

Itching – When the rashes get irritated or exposed to sudden changes in the temperature it itch.

Blisters Warm and Red Skin

Blisters Warm and Red Skin

The above symptoms are common symptoms of cutaneous mycocytosis.  

Mast cell infiltration affecting other organs may result in symptoms that reflect the affected organ. Gastric symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. When bones and muscles are involved, it leads to osteoporosis or osteopenia with bone pain. Anaphylactic reaction may lead to low blood pressure, fainting, shortness of breath, wheezing respiration and swelling of lips, throat and eyes.

What Causes Mastocytosis

Systemic mastocytosis in particularly happens due to mutation. The change happens after conception and in most of the cases,it is not inherited.

In people with mastocytosis certain factors and activities may trigger the symptoms

Common Triggers Of Mastocytosis Includes:

  • Rubbing on the skin
  • Physical activity or exercise
  • Insect bite
  • Alcohol
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,  anaesthesia,  muscle relaxants and other medications
  • Certain foods such as cheese
  • Emotional or physical stress
  • Sudden changes in the temperature.

How To Treat Mastocytosis

Mastocystitis has no cure but treatment and medications are given to minimise the symptoms. A few medications prescribed includes antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, corticosteroid cream and oral steroids. Other medications includes drugs to reduce bone pain, stomachache and supplements to strengthen the weak bones. In case of anaphylactic shock,epinephrine injectionis given to save life. To make darkened skin lesions less visible your doctor may use ultraviolet light. In case of aggressive systemic mastocytosis chemotherapy is prescribed. Some patient may also require allergenic hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

You cannot prevent mastocytosis, but you can avoid severe allergic reactions by avoiding situations, foods and medications that can trigger macrocytosis.

Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta
Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta:  Professionally a homeopathic doctor and a dietician Dr. Ritu Kumari Gupta is passionate about writing health and parenting blogs. She believes in holistic approach towards health and well being.