Where did Edward VI’s skin ulcers come from?

Let’s talk a bit more about how Edward VI died and whether or not it could have been as a result of non-classical cystic fibrosis.

On 12 May, imperial ambassador Scheyfve wrote to Charles V that Edward VI, “is still indisposed, and it is held for certain that he cannot escape. The physicians are now all agreed that he is suffering from a suppurating tumour (apostème) on the lung, or that at least his lung is attacked. He is beginning to break out in ulcers; he is vexed by a harsh, continuous cough, his body is dry and burning, his belly is swollen, he has a slow fever upon him that never leaves him.”

Hmmmm … the pulmonary issues and swelling and fever are all common indicators of non-classic CF, but what about the ulcers on Edward’s skin?

I think it ties into non-classic CF as well.  In non-classic CF patients there are usually chronic airway infections, and one of the most common culprits of these infections is the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Nowadays, P. aeruginosa is treated with antibiotics and can be fought with reasonable success. However, in Edward’s time there was no such hope of keeping the P. aeruginosa from running amok. One of the things this nasty little bacteria can do is cause “hemorrhagic and necrotic lesions, with surrounding erythema; subcutaneous nodules, deep abscesses, cellulitis, and fasciitis; in burns, black or violaceous discoloration or eschar”. In short, it can give you what looks like little ulcers on your skin.

If Edward had non-classic CF then the long-standing infection of P. aeruginosa could have opportunistically spread to other systems in his body –  such as his skin — as his immune system weakened. Thus, he broke out in ulcers.

Yet another piece of evidence indicating non-classic CF was a possibility, mayhap even a likelihood, in Edward’s premature death.

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