Erythema nodosum often looks like painful lumps or bruises, generally on the shins. The reason behind this condition can be a mystery, and a few different ailments may be to blame. There are various symptoms and treatments of erythema nodosum, but always make sure to follow up with your doctor regarding the best way to treat your condition.

What is Erythema Nodosum?

Erythema nodosum is also known as subacute nodular migratory panniculitis. It is an inflammatory condition characterized by the swelling of the fat cells under the skin, causing bumps or nodules. The condition can be quite painful, especially when placing pressure on the area. Sometimes, flu-like symptoms may occur due to elevated blood levels.

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What Are the Symptoms of Erthema Nodosum?

Erythema nodosum usually presents as reddish, painful, tender lumps about the size of a dime or quarter, situated on the front of the legs, below the knees. The inflammation may come and go for weeks. Low-grade fever and unexplained exhaustion are also signs of erythema nodosum. As the lumps shrink, they may leave a bruised appearance. In rare cases, lesions develop on the palms and soles of the feet. In children, these lesions can sometimes be seen on the knees, ankles, extensor aspects of arms, face, neck, thighs, and trunk.  


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What Are the Causes of Erythema Nodosum?

Medication, strep throat, fungal infections, inflammatory bowel disease, and pregnancy could all cause erythema nodosum. The exact trigger is unknown. In more than half of the cases, the cause is never determined, and the generic nature of the symptoms can make correct diagnosis difficult until the bumps develop.


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How is Erythema Nodosum Diagnosed?

If you have a painful rash, visit a medical provider. Your doctor will first perform a physical exam and ask you several questions both about the bumps and your family history. You may also need a biopsy to examine the affected skin and fully confirm the diagnosis of erythema nodosum.


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How is Erythema Nodosum Treated?

After the medical provider has identified the lesions as erythema nodosum, you may discuss potential causes. Pinpointing the underlying reason for the rash is important to prevent the bumps from returning. The severity of the condition affects treatment. In most cases, the doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to help the rash heal completely.



What is the Outlook for People with Erythema Nodosum?

The long-term prognosis of the condition is good because erythema nodosum does not affect the internal organs. The bumps and scars usually fade in two weeks to a couple of months and generally do not leave scars. However, it is possible the erythema nodosum will come back. Finding out what is triggering the symptoms is essential to prevent reoccurrences in the future.  


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How Common is Erythema Nodosum?

Erythema nodosum is not a common disease. Doctors report fewer than 200,000 cases every year. In children, the condition affects boys and girls equally, but sometimes a different condition is responsible for the bumpy rash.


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Who is the Most at Risk?

Adult women are more likely to develop erythema nodosum than men. Even though erythema nodosum can occur at any age, it is prevalent in people between the ages of 20 and 30 years. If women in your family have this skin ailment, you might be more prone to it, as well.


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Is Erythema Nodosum Connected to Pregnancy?

Some women develop these painful bumps only during pregnancy. Typically, the rash and bumps clear up after childbirth but may return if the woman becomes pregnant again. If you notice a rash developing during your pregnancy, talk with your medical provider right away.


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What Self-Treatment Options Are Available?

Sometimes extra rest is the best medicine. Besides taking it easy, you can take an over-the-counter analgesic to help with the pain. Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet is a natural way to alleviate pain. However, still consult with a medical provider as soon as possible; the most effective treatment is to remove the cause. If a particular drug is the cause of the lesions, the doctor may prescribe a different medication.


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