What is erythema nodosum?
Erythema nodosum is characterized by tender, red bumps, usually found on the shins. Quite often, erythema nodosum is not a separate disease, but, rather, a sign of some other disease, or of a sensitivity to a drug.
Diseases that can cause erythema nodosum:
- streptococcal infections
- sarcoidosis (inflammation of the lymph nodes and other organs)
- coccidioidomycosis (infection of the upper respiratory tract and lungs)
- histoplasmosis (an infectious pulmonary disease)
- psittacosis (a flu-like disease)
- lymphogranuloma venereum (a venereal infection)
- ulcerative colitis
Drugs that can cause erythema nodosum:
- antibiotics containing sulfa
- oral contraceptives
What are the symptoms of erythema nodosum?
The following are the most common symptoms of erythema nodosum. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- raised bruises on the shins
- joint pain
- enlarged lymph nodes in the chest
Young adults are particularly susceptible to erythema nodosum. The symptoms of erythema nodosum may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is erythema nodosum diagnosed?
A biopsy (removal of tissue for examination under a microscope) of a bump can usually confirm the diagnosis. However, the exact cause cannot always be identified. Drug-induced erythema nodosum can usually be diagnosed by careful elimination of the drug causing the reaction.
Treatment for erythema nodosum:
Specific treatment for erythema nodosum will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the condition
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- treatment of underlying cause
- bed rest (to relieve pain)
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