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.

Treatment

In most cases, no treatment is necessary for granuloma annulare. Most lesions disappear within a few months, and rarely last more than two years. If the appearance of your skin bothers you, your doctor may recommend:

  • Corticosteroid creams or ointments. Prescription-strength products may help improve the appearance of the lesions and speed their disappearance. 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 are thicker and your symptoms are greater, your doctor may inject corticosteroids directly into the lesions to help them disappear faster.
  • Freezing the lesions. Applying liquid nitrogen to the affected area can help remove the lesions and stimulate the growth of new skin.
  • Light therapy. Exposing the lesions to particular types of light is sometimes helpful. Certain types of laser treatments also work for some people.
  • Oral medications. In severe cases, especially when the lesions are widespread, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics, antimalarials or drugs used to prevent immune system reactions.

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?