What is Granuloma Annulare?

Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses what is granuloma annulare.

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Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist, discusses what is granuloma annulare.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Jan Peter Dank, MD, Dermatologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds
Granuloma annulare is an uncommon skin condition.  

It is caused by inflammation deep in the skin that is chronic in nature. This forms growths that are called granulomas. As the condition worsens, it tends to spread out in a semicircular or circular form, and annular means ring.  

So hence, the term granuloma annulare. It’s recognized by these growths in the skin.  They are usually pink or red, though they sometimes can be purple or some shade of brown.  

There are these expanding, mostly ring-shaped or semicircular skin growths that most of the time do not burn or itch. Sometimes, if they’re over a joint such as the elbow or the fingers, they can limit the motion of the joint.  

Granuloma annulare can occur on most body surfaces. Fortunately, it rarely affects the face or neck. The most common places to see it are the arms, hands, and fingers.  

The diagnosis of granuloma annulare is usually confirmed by doing a skin biopsy. There are some other more serious granulomatous conditions of the skin, an infection that can mimic it – and a biopsy is needed to confirm that it is this diagnosis and not something else.  

Most of the time it is a self-limited condition that lasts a few years and disappears as mysteriously as it appears. There are few unfortunate people who have it generalize and involve large areas of their skin.

Treatment often begins with topical cortisones. It’s often disappointing. You can inject cortisones into the lesions, and that is often successful but a little more painful.  

As the condition is self-limited, many people choose not to treat it. For those people with the widespread disease, phototherapy can work, as can more serious immunosuppressant medications.  

However, using serious medications like that require a discussion of risk and benefit with your physician. The condition is associated with higher risks of diabetes and having high blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides. 

So, if the diagnosis is made, usually appropriate screening tests are done for those other conditions. 

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Presenter: Dr. Jan Peter Dank, Dermatologist, Bellingham, WA

Local Practitioners: Dermatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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