Mastocytosis: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with mastocytosis may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with mastocytosis do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by another medical condition.

General symptoms

  • Hives

  • Red, itchy rash

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fainting

  • Facial flushing or reddening of the face

  • Shortness of breath

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Psychological changes, for example, irritability or difficulty concentrating

Symptoms of urticaria pigmentosa

  • Tan or red-brown spots on the skin

  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Headache

  • Increased heart rate

  • Facial flushing

  • Psychological changes

Symptoms of solitary mastocytoma

  • Raised or flat reddish-brown spot on the skin

  • Hives

  • Itching

Symptoms of diffuse erythrodermic mastocytosis

  • Thickening of the skin

  • Blisters

Symptom of telangiectasia macularis eruptiva perstans

  • Small lesions that do not itch

Symptoms of systemic mastocytosis

  • Skin lesions

  • Urticaria pigmentosa

  • Facial flushing

  • Itching

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Ulcers in the stomach and duodenum (small intestine)

  • Headache

  • Lightheadedness

  • Heart palpitations, an irregular or unusually rapid beating of the heart

  • Bone pain

  • Anemia, a low red blood cell count, which can cause fatigue

  • Psychological changes

The symptoms of systemic mastocytosis can sometimes occur as “attacks,” where more than one symptom appears at the same time. Following an attack, the person may feel tired and lethargic.

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor or a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin conditions. The doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If mastocytosis is diagnosed, relieving symptoms is an important part of your care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis, and it explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.