What Does a Rash From Hodgkin Lymphoma Look Like?

Actually, it’s rather uncommon for Hodgkin lymphoma to cause a skin rash. Hodgkin lymphoma can produce itching (pruritus), but the itching usually occurs without an obvious skin rash. Pruritus may be confined to the hands, feet or lower legs, or it can affect the entire body. Researchers believe this effect is caused by cytokines, which are chemicals released by the body’s immune system in response to lymphoma. Cytokines can irritate nerve endings in the skin and cause persistent itching.

The symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma tend to be nonspecific and often mimic those produced by conditions that are far more common and less serious, such as a cold, flu or respiratory infection. While many people experience fever, night sweats and unexplained fatigue, the hallmark symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is painless swelling in lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin.

What types of lymphoma can cause a skin rash?

Although a skin rash is a relatively uncommon symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma, skin lymphomas can produce an itchy rash in affected areas of the body. Rashes that occur with T-cell and B-cell skin lymphomas often have the following characteristics:

  • In early stages, small patches of dry, red skin (mycosis fungoides) might appear on the torso, buttocks or other parts of the body.
  • The rash may resemble psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis.
  • Some affected areas of skin may also thicken, harden and form plaques, which can itch and ulcerate. Most often, plaques develop on the face or buttocks, or in skin folds.
  • As the lymphoma progresses, raised areas of skin (papules) may appear. Papules can potentially grow and form nodules or tumors.
  • Some people also experience a general reddening of the skin known as erythroderma, which can be dry, itchy and scaly.

If you would like to learn more about the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma, you are encouraged to meet with an oncologist in the Malignant Hematology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. At Moffitt, you do not need a referral.