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Granuloma Annulare: Causes and Treatments

At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, our providers come in contact with many common skin conditions, some contagious and some non-threatening. The latter is the usually the case with granuloma annulare, a condition that peaks in people under age ten and those 30-55 years old. Read on to learn more about this skin condition.

shutterstock_46380172What is granuloma annulare? Granuloma annulare is a ring-like granuloma, or localized nodular inflammation, in the skin. While different types of skin irritation can occur in any age group, this condition tends to occur more in women and children, predominantly girls. Mainly, the condition consists of typically painless raised, reddish or skin-colored lesions that form ring patterns. Occasionally, multiple rings may join into one.  Most commonly, granuloma annulare occurs on the hands and feet.

What causes granuloma annulare? Unfortunately, the true cause of the condition is unknown. Reactions to certain medications/vaccinations, minor skin injuries, and excessive sun exposure can be triggers for some people. For others, animal or insect bites may cause the condition to form. Granuloma annulare has also been associated with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, and Addison’s disease.

How do I know if I have granuloma annulare?  Upon first glance, granuloma looks very similar to a fungal infection or ringworm. Visiting one of our dermatologist or physicians assistants and undergoing a skin scraping and KOH test can help differentiate between granuloma and a fungal infection. A positive KOH test enables one of our providers to diagnose that there is fungus present. In addition to a positive KOH test, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm granuloma annulare diagnosis.

Is granuloma annulare contagious?  Granuloma is similar to other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema in that it is not contagious. However, because the condition resembles the contagious skin disease ringworm, others may think it is infectious. For this reason, especially if the condition is occurring in your child, it is a good idea to seek treatment.

Is granuloma annulare treatable?  Yes. However, because the condition does not have symptoms outside of being visually unappealing, you may wait for it to clear up on its own, which could take years. In other cases, potent creams or injections of steroids applied directly into rings can clear up the rash more quickly.  We may recommend freezing with liquid nitrogen, ultraviolet light therapy or immune system-suppressing medicines for more severe cases.

If you notice a ring matching these descriptions that does not go away, we encourage you to contact us to make an appointment. For more on skin conditions, news, and updates, please follow Dermatology Associates of Atlanta on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google+.