Diagnosis

Your doctor may diagnose granuloma annulare by examining the affected skin. He or she may take a small skin sample (biopsy) to examine under a microscope.

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Treatment

Treatment usually isn't needed for granuloma annulare. Most bumps disappear in a few months and rarely last more than two years. But if you're bothered by how your skin looks or feels, ask your doctor about treatment, which can help them disappear faster.

Treatment options include:

  • Corticosteroid creams or ointments. Prescription-strength products may help improve the appearance of the bumps and help them disappear faster. Your doctor may direct you to cover the cream with bandages or an adhesive patch, to increase the effectiveness of this treatment.
  • Corticosteroid injections. If the skin lesions aren't clearing up with topical treatment, your doctor may suggest a corticosteroid injection. Repeat injections may be needed every six to eight weeks until the condition clears up.
  • Freezing. Applying liquid nitrogen to the affected area may help remove the lesions.
  • Light therapy. Exposing the lesions to certain types of light, including lasers, is sometimes helpful.
  • Oral medications. In severe cases, especially when the lesions are widespread, your doctor might prescribe drugs taken by mouth, such as antibiotics, antimalarials or drugs used to prevent immune system reactions.

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Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a specialist in skin conditions (dermatologist).

What you can do

Before your appointment, you might want to list answers to the following questions:

  • Have you recently traveled to a new area or spent significant time outdoors?
  • Do you have pets, or have you recently had contact with new animals?
  • Are any family members or friends having similar symptoms?
  • What medications or supplements do you take regularly?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your skin condition first appear?
  • Does your rash cause any discomfort? Does it itch?
  • Have your symptoms become worse or stayed the same over time?
  • Have you been treating your skin condition with any medications or creams?
  • Does anything seem to improve — or worsen — your symptoms?
  • Do you have any other health conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid problems?
Jan. 29, 2019
References
  1. AskMayoExpert. Granuloma annulare. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
  2. Bolognia JL, et al. Noninfectious granulomatous disorders, including foreign body reactions. In: Dermatology Essentials. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 23, 2015.
  3. Wolff K, et al. The skin in immune, autoimmune, autoinflammatory, and rheumatic disorders. In: Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2017. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Dec. 21, 2018.
  4. Ferri FF. Granuloma. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 21, 2019.
  5. Brodell RT. Granuloma annulare. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 21, 2018.
  6. Mangold AR, et al. Clinical and histopathologic features of paraneoplastic granuloma annulare in association with solid organ malignancies: A case-control study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2018;79:913.