Erythema nodosum is a type of skin inflammation that is located in a part of the fatty layer of skin. Erythema nodosum results in reddish, painful, tender lumps most commonly located in the front of the legs below the knees. The tender lumps, or nodules, of erythema nodosum range in size from a dime to a quarter. They may be inflamed off and on for a period of weeks, then shrink and become flat, leaving a bruised appearance.
Erythema nodosum can go away on its own in three to six weeks. After it's gone, it may leave only a temporary bruised appearance or a chronic indentation in the skin where the fatty layer has been injured.
Lee Anderson developed the skin condition rosacea when she was in her 40s. "My daughter used to tease me that I had 'slap-face,' because that's what it looked like all the time -- that I'd been slapped. It was very embarrassing," says Anderson, now 54. The condition grew worse, and she eventually found herself turning down social invitations. "It ate away at my self-confidence."
Anderson was in plenty of company. An estimated 14 million Americans have rosacea, which is a fairly common skin condition...
Chronic erythema nodosum is a condition in which lesions pop up elsewhere, for a period of weeks to months. However, chronic erythema nodosum that may last for years is another pattern. Chronic erythema nodosum, with occasional recurrences, can occur with or without an underlying disease present.
The doctor would first do a physical exam of the rash. However, a biopsy - a procedure in which a small section of affected skin is taken to examine more thoroughly -- is usually required to confirm a diagnosis of erythema nodosum.
How is erythema nodosum treated?
Erythema nodosum is initially managed by identifying and treating any underlying condition, along with the skin lesions.
Treatments for erythema nodosum include anti-inflammatory drugs, and cortisone by mouth or injection. Colchicine is sometime used effectively to reduce inflammation. Treatment must be customized for the particular patient and his or her symptoms. It is important to note that erythema nodosum, while annoying and often painful, does not threaten internal organs and the long-term outlook is generally very good.