Behcet’s disease was named after Hulusi Behcet, a Dermatologist and Venereologist, who first identified the disease in 1937. The disease is more common in countries located on the historical road of trade, namely the “silk road”. The disease is mostly prevalent in Turkey.
Typically, the disease occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. The incidence of the condition is similar for both sexes. However, the condition may be more severe in men. Dermal symptoms are the most common manifestations, but it was understood over the years that the disease is a vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) that may affect many systems.
Dermal Symptoms of Behcet’s Disease
- Mouth sores (aphthae and mouth ulcers):Recurrent mouth sores are round or ovoid painful ulcers with white or yellow base surrounded by red halo with bulged margins. Their size varies. It may be a single lesion or multiple lesions may develop. This finding is observed in almost all patients and it is typically the initial symptom of the disease.
- Genital ulcer (sore on the genital area) : It is among the most specific findings of the disease. Similar to mouth sores, it is a round or ovoid sore with a white or yellow base surrounded by red halo with bulged margins. However, it may be deeply located compared to mouth sores and it usually leaves scar during healing. This condition may cause pain and difficulty moving. It most frequently occurs in the testes of men and the labia of women.
- Dermal Symptoms: Erythema nodosum, papulopustular lesions and superficial thrombophlebitis are the most important ones among other dermal manifestations. Erythema nodosum typically occurs on the legs and it is associated with red, pea-sized swellings on the skin. Papulopustular lesions are structurally similar to inflammation of the hair follicle or teen acne and the lesions are generally surrounded by a red halo. It may develop on the arm, leg and even face. Superficial thrombophlebitis affects the veins; redness is identified along the trace of the vein during examination.
In addition to dermal symptoms, ophthalmic and articular signs may also be observed frequently. Redness of eyes, blurred vision, pain and vision loss should be taken into consideration. Ocular manifestations generally occur within the first five years of the disease and they are more common in men. Considering the joint involvement, pain and limitation of movement can be noted in major joints, such as knee, ankle and wrist.
Moreover, Behcet’s disease may affect the large-bore blood vessels, the digestive system and the nervous system.
Diagnosis of Behcet’s Disease
No laboratory marker is currently available to diagnose the disease. Your doctor will investigate clinical findings and make an examination to make the diagnosis. Dermal symptoms are important for diagnosis as they are usually the initial symptoms of the disease. Adjunctive diagnostic tests can be ordered as well.
Treatment and Follow-up of Behcet’s Disease
Regular follow-up is very crucial, since Behcet’s disease is a chronic condition that associated with attacks and state of wellness following the attack. At our clinic, Behcet’s disease is treated and followed up by dermatology, ophthalmology and rheumatology clinics through a multidisciplinary approach.