Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis is a rare medical condition that causes skin abnormalities related to the menstrual cycle. Ulcers may form in the mouth, or various skin manifestations mimicking other medical conditions, such as eczema or other forms of urticaria, may form. The rash associated with this condition typically goes away a few days after the affected woman's menstrual period stops, typically recurring the following month. Pregnant women may develop it as well as a result of normal hormonal fluctuations. Although this condition is not completely understood, it is thought to be caused due to a sensitivity or unexplained allergy to the female hormone known as progesterone.
Skin abnormalities among women with autoimmune progesterone dermatitis typically begin during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which usually occurs between five and seven days before the menstrual period begins. Symptoms normally fade or disappear completely five to seven days after the menstrual cycle ends. Pregnant women may sporadically develop symptoms at any time, although many have reported that the symptoms remain on roughly the same schedule as the pre-pregnancy cycle.
The specific symptoms may vary from woman to woman or even from cycle to cycle. Skin ulcers may develop on the lips or inside the mouth, or raised, sometimes itchy lesions may develop on various areas of the body. These lesions can sometimes be mistaken for other skin disorders, such as eczema or allergic reactions. In fact, this form of dermatitis is so rare that, unless the affected woman or a medical professional tracks the precise schedule of symptoms, this condition can potentially go undiagnosed indefinitely.
Exposure to progesterone, usually in the form of birth control pills, is thought to partially sensitize some women to this hormone, leading to the development of autoimmune progesterone dermatitis. Other theories suggest that the body is reacting to some other allergen, although no direct cause is found in most cases of this disorder. Some studies suggest that women with a condition known as endometriosis may be more prone to developing this problem.
Treatment for this disorder is varied based on individual response to the treatment options available. Some patients respond favorably to the use of prescription medications, although some of these drugs may stop menstruation and ovulation completely, leaving the patient infertile. In more extreme cases, one or both ovaries may need to be surgically removed. Any questions or concerns about the condition or the best treatment options on an individual basis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.