Pretibial Myxedema -- Causes and Top 7
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Last updated July 8, 2016 (originally published August 28, 2013)
By Louise Carr,  Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

Of the many problems that thyroid disease can cause, one of
the most vexing is the skin condition called "pretibial

Otherwise known as "thyroid dermopathy", pretibial
myxedema describes a condition affecting the pretibial area
of the leg. And where exactly is the pretibial area? You know
it better as your shinbone. Pretibial myxedema is almost
always associated with Grave’s disease. What does pretibial
myxedema look like? Is pretibial myxedema dangerous? And
are there any natural remedies that help to heal pretibial

Grave’s Disease and Pretibial Myxedema

Grave’s disease is a form of hyperthyroidism, a condition
where your thyroid gland releases too much thyroid
hormone. In Grave's disease, the skin around the eyelids
pulls back or sags, often making the eyes appear to bulge.
The collection of symptoms associated with changes in your
eyes when you have Grave's disease is known as

Consequences of Grave’s disease include fatigue, heat
sensitivity, sweating, swollen eyes, and pretibial myxedema.
This skin condition is caused by a thickening of the tissue
beneath the surface of the skin and it produces thick, raised
lesions on the front of your shins that may be light in color
and darken over time.

What Causes Pretibial Myxedema?

No one completely understands the underlying cause of
pretibial myxedema, according to John Hopkins University.

But it has been suggested that the condition is an
autoimmune disorder provoked by certain compounds
released in Grave’s disease. The skin condition also appears
in case
s of Hashimoto thyroiditis --- a condition which Oprah
Winfrey has said that she suffers from ---- as well as  
primary hypothyroidism, and euthyroidism.

How Many People Get Pretibial Myxedema?

Around 1.3 million people in America have Grave’s disease,
according to The National Women's Health Information
Center at the US Department of Health and Human Services –
the most common form of hyperthyroidism. Pretibial
myxedema occurs in between 0.5 to 4.3 percent of people
with Grave’s disease – it is a relatively rare complication of
Grave’s disease, according to John Hopkins University, and
affects more women than men.

Is Pretibial Myxedema Painful?

Pretibial myxedema doesn’t usually cause pain although it
may cause itching and
excessive sweating. In certain cases
the thick lesions may grow so much that they block the flow
of fluid inside your lymphatic vessels.

If this happens your limbs will swell dramatically and require
immediate medical attention. (Read more about
causes of leg
swelling and natural remedies that help.)

Usually, however, pretibial myxedema simply causes
embarrassment and discomfort. The hair follicles in your
lower legs become more prominent, giving your skin an
“orange peel” look. Pretibial myxedema can also occur on
your arms, fingers, hands, back, nose and ears.

If you suffer from pretibial myxedema you’ll want to
minimize its unusual appearance and get your skin back to its
original condition.

Treatment for pretibial myxedema is often carried out in
conjunction with treatment for Grave’s disease. We looked at
the scientific studies to see which natural remedies and
alternative treatments are useful for restoring smooth and
pain-free skin in Grave’s disease sufferers.

Bandages and Dressings Can Help Pretibial Myxedema

The obvious place to start with treatment for pretibial
myxedema is with topical applications of corticosteroids.

However, alongside the corticosteroids you can help resolve
the condition more quickly by applying compression
bandages and dressings, according to a 1994 review of cases
by the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Internal
Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

The dressings were made from plastic film and applied with
compression stockings or athletic wraps.

You may not even need the topical steroids if your case is
mild. A 2005 study led by Dr. V.  Fatourechi, also from the
Mayo Clinic, found that 50% of mild to moderate cases of
pretibial myxedema resolve completely without any treatment
in a few years.

Reduce the Symptoms of Pretibial Myxedema with

The herb bugleweed may help to resolve symptoms of Grave’
s disease, including skin symptoms, by decreasing levels of
the hormone TSH that stimulates the thyroid gland to
produce too much thyroid hormone.

This herb, whose technical name is "Lycopus virginicus", may
also defeat the action of antibodies that stimulate the thyroid.
Many studies attest to bugleweed’s power, including 1985
research from M Auf'mkolk, JC Ingbar, K Kubota, et al.

The German Health Authority (German Commission E)
recommends that you limit your use of bugleweed to treat
thyroid conditions to 1 to 2 ml, three times a day. Bugleweed
may be combined with lemonbalm or gromwell  in herbal

Try Glucomannan to Treat Grave’s Disease Symptom
Pretibial Myxedema

Another substance that may have benefits for treating
pretibial myxedema is glucomannan. The supplement is useful
because it helps restore normal thyroid hormone levels more
quickly in the body, thus helping reduce the side effects of
hypothyroidism including pretibial myxedema. A 2007 study
from Istanbul University, Turkey found that when
glucomannan was added to standard treatment the positive
results were far more rapid.

Use Royal Jelly as a Treatment for Pretibial Myxedema

Royal jelly is secreted by honey bees to feed the queen bee.
According to a 2006 study from Karadeniz Technical
University Faculty of Medicine in Turkey, creamy Royal jelly
can help slow the progression of Grave’s disease and
therefore remove the risk of suffering from pretibial
myxedema skin lesions. The study looked at four healthy
patients and six people with Grave’s disease, whose cells
were treated with Royal jelly in a test tube study.

Avoid Ashwaghanda and Kelp to Prevent Pretibial

If you suffer from Grave’s disease and skin lesions there are
certain substances that are best left alone. These include the
ashwaghanda, which may raise thyroid hormone levels
according to a 1998 study from the School of Life Sciences, D.
A. University, Indore, India, and kelp.

Kelp is a type of nutritious seaweed but it contains high
levels of iodine that can provoke excessive thyroid hormone
activity. Limit your intake of iodine in order to limit your risk
of suffering from pretibial myxedema.  

Stop Smoking to Heal Pretibial Myxedema Lesions

Smoking raises your risk of developing hyperthyroidism and,
in particular, Grave’s disease according to a 2002 report from
the Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.

Smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your circulation
and could cause problems if the lesions on your legs grow
too large and start to block the lymphatic vessels. (Read
more about
natural remedies for poor circulation.)

Try Chinese Herbal Remedies to Treat Pretibial Myxedema

Chinese herbal remedies have been shown to treat Grave’s
disease so they may be of use in treating pretibial myxedema
associated with Grave’s disease. A 2007 study from The
Cochrane Collaboration demonstrated that combinations of
traditional Chinese herbs alongside conventional drug
treatments were effective in treating the symptoms of
hyperthyroidism, including pretibial myxedema. However,
traditional Chinese herbal medicine didn’t seem to be
effective on its own.

You may want to check with your doctor before you use
Chinese herbs to try to relieve skin lesions.

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Royal jelly can help to heal skin
lesions from Graves disease.