Diagnosis

Your doctor may diagnose granuloma annulare by examining the affected skin and taking a small skin sample (biopsy) to examine under a microscope.

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Treatment

Granuloma annulare can clear on its own over time. Treatment might help clear the skin faster than if left untreated, but recurrence is common. The lesions that return after treatment tend to appear at the same spots, and 80% of those usually clear within two years.

Untreated, the lesions might last a few weeks or decades.

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 6 to 8 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. 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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Coping and support

These coping methods might help ease the distress of living with granuloma annulare long term:

  • Routinely reach out to friends and family members.
  • Join a local or reputable internet-based support group.

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. You may be referred 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?
July 13, 2021
  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.
  7. Bolognia JL, ed. Non-infectious granulomas. In: Dermatology. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 18, 2021.
  8. Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. June 18, 2021.

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