Erythema Nodosum

by Sam Malone


Under a person's skin are fat cells called panniculitis. When these cells get inflamed, that ailment is known as Erythema Nodosum. The causes include red nodules that are usually evident on both shins. This skin inflammation is a reaction to several different causes. In several cases (about 30 - 50%), the reason why Erythema Nodosum occurred is undetermined. This ailment can be connected to other ailments such as autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, sarcoidosis, streptococcal, and tuberculosis. Causes may also be pregnancies, medications such as birth control pills, and cancer. Erythema Nodosum usually occurs in a person when he or she is between the age of 20 to 30. Men are not so affected with this. The women however are 3 to 6 times more susceptible to this ailment. When the subcutaneous fat undergoes a hypersensitivity reaction 3 to 6 weeks later, Erythema Nodosum may occur. Inflammation, joint pain, malaise, and fever almost always accompany this ailment. There will be tender red nodules appearing where there is fat which means it could appear in the thighs, neck, trunk, arms, and even the face. These nodules will have a shiny and smooth appearance. Usually the nodules would grow to have 1 - 5 cm diameter. There is also a chance that smaller nodules will coalesce and become one large are of hard skin.

The nodules would then turn bluish purple, and then brownish, yellowish, and would then turn green. These color changes are much like that of a resolving bruise. Within 2 - 6 weeks, the nodules will begin to subside without scarring or ulceration. To diagnose this type of fungal diseases, an incisional biopsy or seep punch biopsy may be in order. These of course can be done when diagnosis of Erythema Nodosum is not that clear. Once the diagnosis is clear, there might be a need for more administration of medical procedures such as ESR - erythrocyte sedimentation rate, chest x - ray, intradermal tuberculin test, throat culture, urinalysis, antistreptolysin-O (ASO) titer, and a complete blood count. When treating Erythema Nodosum, the main concern should be its underlying cause. The symptoms can be remedied with anti-inflammatory agents that are nonsteroidal, wet dressings, compressive bandages, leg elevation, and bed rest. But as said, these treatments are for symptoms. If you really want to avoid having this skin inflammation from occurring again, have the underlying cause diagnosed. Then have that treated.


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