Definition of Erythema Nodosum

Erythema Nodosum – The eruption of red nodules along the top surfaces of the lower legs (shins). Erythema nodosum is nearly always a symptom of an underlying condition, often a streptococcal infection, and represents inflammation of the fatty tissue at the foundation of the skin.

Other symptoms include fever, pain and swelling in the joints, and generalized discomfort and malaise. Erythema nodosum occurs most commonly in young adults between the ages of 18 and 30.

Symptoms and Treatment

The initial eruption of nodules may clear in six to eight weeks, though outbreaks tend to recur over months to years. Over the course of healing the nodules change color from their original bright red to bluish red and ultimately yellow, resembling bruises, before fading completely.

The doctor diagnoses erythema nodosum primarily on the basis of its appearance, though may run blood tests to look for evidence of autoimmune disorders or infection that may underlie the outbreak.

Treatment targets the underlying cause and may include antibiotic medications when there is infection or anti-inflammatory agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to relieve swelling, pain, and fever.

Conditions Associated With Erythema Nodosum

strep throatrheumatic feverscarlet fever
Hodgkin’s lymphomaHansen’s diseasebacterial infection
fungal infectionadverse reaction to sulfonamidespregnancy
Adverse reaction to sulfonylureasoral contraceptiveshistoplasmosis
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)non-Hodgkin’s lymphomasarcoidosis


How did you like this article?

Page last reviewed:

About Us