Granuloma Annulare is a rash that can develop in the skin and take on a few distinct appearances. Read more...
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What is Granuloma Annulare?
Granuloma annulare (GA) is not an uncommon skin condition. As dermatologists, we tend to diagnose and treat this condition routinely. It is not contagious and tends to be self-limited in many cases. As many as two-thirds of the diagnoses tend to occur before the age of 30. Although its true cause is unknown, it is thought to be a ‘reactive’ skin condition. In other words, it is believed to be triggered by something- for example, some cases can occur after even a mild viral infection. It is not an allergic reaction. Even though it is believed to be triggered by a cause, this trigger is not usually clear.
Granuloma annulare is a rash that can develop in the skin and take on a few distinct appearances. It may be underdiagnosed as it does not necessarily have symptoms when noted. It is not an infectious rash and represents inflammation in the skin that can take on a distinct appearance on skin biopsies.
The word “granuloma” refers to the appearance of these skin lesions under the microscope. “Annulare” references the distinct annular or ring-like appearance the rash can appear on the skin.
It is considered to be benign and not contagious.
What does Granuloma Annulare (GA) look like?
There are 4 classic appearances that GA can take.
Localized. Reddish papules or bumps develop in the skin and may start to group and form rings or larger plaques. There is not usually scaling, roughness or itching associated. They are smooth and somewhat firm or indurated when touched. They are usually on the arms, legs, hands, or feet but can present anywhere on the skin. This version represents most cases of GA, as many as 75% of cases. According to medical reviews, about half of the cases last around 2 years with or without treatment however it can last longer in individuals.
Disseminated or generalized. This appears similar to localized but is more widespread. This version comprises about 10% of cases and may last longer than localized variants. This can last 3 to 4 years if not longer.
Subcutaneous. This occurs mostly in children below the age of 5. Unlike the first two variants, this variant is deeper and presents as nodules that are subcutaneous and may enlarge. It tends to resolve spontaneously.
Perforating. This variant is different from the other types in that it can be associated with scaling or crusting with evidence of collagen “perforating” through the skin. Itching may be associated as well.