Although Hodgkin’s lymphoma may cause itchy skin, a rash is very rare. A rash more commonly occurs with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Hodgkin’s disease, is a blood cancer that begins in your lymphatic system (made up of nodes, organs, and vessels in your body).

It usually develops in your upper body’s B lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help your immune system fight infections.

Only about 10% of lymphomas are Hodgkin’s lymphomas (HL). Most are non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL), which, according to the American Cancer Society, is one of the most prevalent cancers in the United States.

The main difference between HL and NHL is that HL develops only if you have Reed-Sternberg lymphocytes. These are unusual cells that may have more than one nucleus.

While a rash is a more common symptom of NHL, it’s rare with HL.

The other symptoms for both HL and NHL may include:

How common is rash in Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

A skin rash is not common with HL. But you may experience itchy skin, called pruritus, without a rash.

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Skin lymphoma — a type of NHL that develops in your skin but not in your lymph nodes or other organs — may cause an itchy rash.

The type of skin lymphoma depends on the type of NHL: B-cell lymphoma or T-cell lymphoma. Most skin lymphomas are T-cell, also called cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs).

Almost half of skin lymphomas are mycosis fungoides, which are CTCLs. This condition is more common in people in their 50s and 60s and affects males twice as much as females.

Primary cutaneous follicle center lymphoma (PCFCL) is the most common B-cell skin lymphoma. It’s a slow-growing lymphoma that mostly affects middle-aged adults.

Skin lymphoma is very rare for HL. Only 0.5–7.5% of people with HL develop it. It may occur in the later stages of HL and indicate a poorer outcome.

The development of more effective therapies to treat HL has resulted in fewer cases of it spreading to the skin.

A skin lymphoma rash may consist of the following:

  • small lesions, or papules, that look like pimples
  • flat lesions
  • lesions, called plaques, that are thick, lowered, or raised
  • large bumps, or nodules, just below your skin

The rash is typically red to purple and scaly. It may develop on part or most of your body, especially in areas with little sun exposure.

The treatment for your lymphoma rash depends on the type of lymphoma causing it.

For CTCLs, a doctor may recommend any of the following:

Doctors can effectively treat PCFCL with radiation therapy, which uses high frequency rays to kill cancer cells.

The following are the answers to common questions about lymphoma rash.

Does Hodgkin’s lymphoma cause itching?

You may experience itchy skin without a rash with HL. The itchiness may be due to chemicals called cytokines that your immune system produces in reaction to the lymphoma.

These may irritate your nerve endings, causing itchiness throughout your body or in your hands, feet, or lower legs, especially at night.

Does lymphoma skin rash come and go?

Skin symptoms from T-cell lymphoma (the most common skin lymphoma) tend to come and go.

What are the early symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

While a rash may be the first symptom of NHLs like mycosis fungoides, it’s not likely to indicate HL. The most common early symptom of HL is a lump in your neck, underarm, or groin, which indicates a swollen lymph node.

The lump is usually painless but may become painful when you drink alcohol. On the other hand, an enlarged lymph node due to an infection or other cause typically hurts when you touch it.

You should contact a doctor if you have a swollen lymph node but don’t have an infection.

A skin rash isn’t a common symptom of HL. It occurs more often with NHL. But your skin may be itchy without a rash.

To treat a lymphoma rash, a doctor may prescribe topical creams or recommend phototherapy.