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Painless red spots on legs
Jun 29, 2003

I have about 5 red spots on my lower legs that have been there for about two years. They do not itch, burn, bleed, ooze, or do anything but scare me because I don't know what they are. Within the past 6 months, one of them increased in size and redness from a pale 1/2" long to a more prominent and noticeable 1 1/2" long. There is also some minor raising, but only on this one. I would have gone to a dermatologist some while back, but as a contractor I have NO medical insurance and can't afford any. I need to know what these are.

I walk alot in my job, both on stairs and hard surfaces, and was wondering if it's a circulatory problem.

My health history includes low blood sugar, and there is a lot of cancer in my famnily tree, although none of the symptoms for the various forms of skin cancer fit with what these spots are doing. (No pain, no irritation, they just sit there.)

I've tried looking them up in books and on the web, but have found nothing.

Help me, please.

Response from Mr. Vergel

I will forward your note to the docs in the list who may know more about this. Does your local clinic for the uninsured have referals to specialits(I am assuming you are getting drugs through ADAP and are a Ryan White client)? Nelson

Response from Dr. Dezube

As for your spots and the red spots of so many others who write, please permit me to re-run a response, which I had posted previously to similar queries. It's applicable to your case.

In the past months or so, I have received about 30 queries which describe pigmented lesions,stretch marks, pimples and so on and so on. Some describe red lesions, others purple or brown lesions, and others lesions that either do or do not blanch (turn white). Some of the queries are from HIV + folks, some from HIV - folks. They all ask the same question. What do I think? Is it cancer? Is it Kaposi's sarcoma?

Basically there is no way to know whether a lesion is KS or not without a biopsy. KS is a disease which is really diagnosed by a pathologist looking at a biopsy specimen under the microscope. If you go to a clinician who sees alot of KS, (s)he can certainly give you a presumptive diagnosis. There are however many, many different skin conditions which can cause lesions. KS is unlikely in HIV negative folks, though it can occur.

If you really are concerned that you have KS (and I'm referring to all thirty of you who have written to me), then first get HIV tested. You need to know. If you are HIV negative, then mostly likely you do not have KS. If you are HIV positive and have a pigmented lesion, then by all means get this checked out. Most KS lesions can be readily dealt with. There is no reason to agonize about this. The sooner you get seen, the sooner it can be taken care of.

So many of you query this site when it comes to lesions because of fear of the unknown, fear of seeking medical care, and so on. I urge all of you to get that lesion evaluated if it's driving you crazy. Don't lose any more sleep over it.

In terms of your lack of insurance issue, most hospitals have some type of safety net program-- free care, subsidized care, Ryan White funds, Medicaid. Have you tried to talk to the financial aid office of your local hospital? Although I obviously can't guarantee anything, for many individuals some arrangement can be made.

Best of Luck. BD.



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