What causes Graves' dermopathy? How is it treated?

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

Rarely, people with Graves' disease develop Graves' dermopathy, a skin condition characterized by red, swollen skin, usually on the shins and tops of the feet. The texture of the affected skin may be similar to that of an orange peel. This condition results from a buildup of certain carbohydrates in the skin — the cause of which isn't known. Doctors may also refer to it as pretibial myxedema.

Treatment of Graves' dermopathy is usually directed at the underlying Graves' disease, but treatment of the affected skin may also include:

  • Cortisone creams to reduce inflammation
  • Compression wraps

Early diagnosis and treatment of Graves' dermopathy can improve the chances of successful treatment. Unfortunately, even with successful treatment of the underlying Graves' disease, the dermopathy may develop, persist and even progress.

Jul. 12, 2011 See more Expert Answers