Overview

Granuloma annulare (gran-u-LOW-muh an-u-LAR-e) is a skin condition that causes raised reddish or skin-colored bumps (lesions) in a ring pattern. The bumps are usually on the hands and feet.

Minor skin injuries and some drugs might trigger the condition. Different types affect adults and children.

The lesions usually disappear on their own within two years without treatment. But if you're bothered by how your skin looks or feels, your doctor can prescribe medications that can speed the disappearance of the condition.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of granuloma annulare can vary, depending on the variety:

  • Localized. This is the most common type of granuloma annulare. The bump (lesion) borders are circular or semicircular, with a diameter up to 2 inches (5 centimeters). The reddish or skin-colored bumps occur most commonly on the hands, feet, wrists and ankles of young adults.
  • Generalized. Less commonly, adults experience this type, which causes itchy, reddish or skin-colored bumps on most of the body, including the trunk, arms and legs.
  • Under the skin. A type that usually affects young children is called subcutaneous granuloma annulare. It produces small, firm lumps under the skin, instead of a rash. The lumps form on the hands, shins and scalp.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if your skin develops reddish bumps (lesions) in ring patterns that don't go away within a few weeks.

Causes

It's not clear what causes granuloma annulare. Sometimes it's triggered by:

  • Animal or insect bites
  • Infections, such as hepatitis
  • Tuberculin skin tests
  • Vaccinations
  • Sun exposure
  • Minor skin injuries
  • Drugs

Granuloma annulare is not contagious.

Risk factors

Granuloma annulare is occasionally associated with diabetes or thyroid disease, most often when lesions are numerous or widespread. It may, rarely, be related to cancer, especially in older people whose granuloma annulare is severe, doesn't respond to treatment or returns after cancer treatment.