Tiny blisters on woman’s hand turn out to be sign of gonorrhoea that’s spread through the body

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A WOMAN was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection after noticing blisters on her hand.

The unnamed 20-year-old was diagnosed with gonorrhoea after turning up at A&E with a rash.

A woman was diagnosed with gonorrhoea after turning up at A&E with blisters covering her hands
A woman was diagnosed with gonorrhoea after turning up at A&E with blisters covering her hands
New England Journal of Medicine

She told doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, that the rash had erupted that morning.

They examined her and found it was covering her arms, legs, trunk and scalp.

The patient was also complaining of muscle aches, fever and pain in both ankles.

She then admitted to having unprotected sex with a new partner two weeks earlier.

Rare sign of STI

Doctors, suspecting an STI, prescribed the woman antibiotics.

Dr Melissa Mauskar, who treated the patient, wrote in a case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine: “Blood cultures grew gram-negative diplococi that were identified as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which confirmed the diagnosis.

“The patient’s symptoms abated with antibiotic treatment.”

Three months later, at a follow up appointment, the woman told doctors she was feeling well and had suffered no further rashes or joint pains.

Gonorrhoea can trigger meningitis

Also known as “the clap”, gonorrhoea is one of the most common STIs.

More than 44,500 Brits were diagnosed with the infection in 2017, while 78million are infected globally every year, according to the World Health Organisation.

While it’s easily treated, if it goes undetected gonorrhoea can spread to affect other parts of the body.

That’s what is known as disseminated gonorrhoea infection (DGI).

Rashes and joint point, like that affecting the Texas patient, are known signs of DGI, according to MedScape.

In severe cases DGI can cause gonococcal meningitis, pericarditis and endocarditis – both infections of the heart.

Two-week incubation

Symptoms of gonorrhoea tend to develop within two weeks, but can sometimes appear months later.

However, around one in ten men, and one in five women won’t have any obvious symptoms, which means the STI can go untreated for some time.

In typical cases, these symptoms will affect women:

  • an unusual vaginal discharge that’s thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area
  • bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex, though that’s less common.


Meanwhile, blokes should watch out for:

  • an unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be white or green
  • pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • inflammation of the foreskin
  • pain or tender testicles – though this is less common

If you think you could have gonorrhoea it’s important to seek medical advice at your local sexual health clinic.

Last month it emerged two Brits caught “super gonorrhoea” after steamy sex sessions in Ibiza.

One of the women became the first in the UK to catch the drug resistant strain on British soil.

Doctors have warned the emergence of this drug-resistant strain, dubbed “super gonorrhoea” because it’s so hard to treat, is just the beginning of a much wider STI boom.

Blood tests showed the sexually transmitted infection was the cause of the unnamed 20-year-old's rash - and doctors diagnosed her with disseminated gonorrhoea infection, where it had spread to other parts of her body
Blood tests showed the sexually transmitted infection was the cause of the unnamed 20-year-old’s rash – and doctors diagnosed her with disseminated gonorrhoea infection, where it had spread to other parts of her body
New England Journal of Medicine

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