1.4.2 Granuloma annulare

Grading & Level of Importance: C






Granuloma annulare is a common skin disorder . Prevalence is 0.1% to 0.4%, annual incidences 0.1% to 0.4%, women more affected than men, and 2/3 of the patients are less than 30 years old. 


Granuloma annulare is a granulomatous dermal or subcutaneous disorder characterised by infiltrating mononuclear cells that presents with skin-coloured or reddish, annular or papular lesions related to different aetiologic background.

Aetiology & Pathogenesis

The cause of granuloma annulare is unclear but it can be associated with autoimmune diseases, diabetes mellitus, HIV infection or malignancies.

Signs & Symptoms

Granuloma annulare consists of localized or disseminated firm, small, skin-coloured or reddish papules arranged in rings or arcs, or hard, mobile, dermal and subcutaneous nodules.


Granuloma annulare typically appears on the extensor surfaces of the extremities, in a disseminated form also on the trunk.


Localized, disseminated, subcutaneous and perforating types. 

Laboratory & other workups

In isolated granuloma annulare, no laboratory testing is needed. In disseminated granuloma annulare, HIV serology, complete blood count, glycemia, lipid profile may be tested. Unusual courses of the disease and clinical pictures need histological confirmation.


Granuloma annulare is characterized by loose, degenerative collagen bundles (necrobiosis) with a peripheral cuff of lymphocytes and histiocytes and palisading of the granuloma.


Spontaneous remission, recurrences or a chronic evolution are possible. The treatment of disseminated chronic forms is difficult.


None, except for granuloma annulare associated with an underlying disease. 


The diagnosis is obtained by clinico-pathological correlation.

Differential diagnosis

Sarcoidosis, necrobiosis lipoidica, foreign body granuloma, rheumatoid nodules, interstitial granulomatous dermatitis, tuberculoid leprosy and syphilis.

Prevention & Therapy

Therapeutic abstention except detection of underlying disease or psychoreactive reactions, topical corticosteroids or cryotherapy are possible in limited forms. Phototherapy, dapsone, retinoids, hydroxychloroquine and TNF alpha blockers can be considered in disseminated forms. Strong regulation of diabetic metabolism. Appropriate medication in rheumatic diseases.

Preventive measures are not possible.



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