Granuloma Annulare

Serving Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby and surrounding areas

Granuloma Annulare:

  • Appears as raised circles or bumps on the skin
  • Is not contagious
  • Is not harmful
  • Is not “ringworm” or caused by a fungus
  • Is not associated with any internal symptoms or diseases
  • Only appears in the skin and nowhere else
  • Is not caused by diet
  • Does not cause scarring
  • Is of unknown cause
  • May last months to years, and then may disappear
  • Does not usually itch, burn, sting or hurt
  • Has no cure
  • Occurs in children as well as adults
  • Is most common on the hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Is extremely rare on the face


Topical Corticosteroids (Steroids, Cortisone):

  • Are moderately effective
  • They are used twice daily on the affected areas until the spots become flat
    • At that point use should be stopped
  • Topical corticosteroids must be used for at least a month to see if they are going to be effective
  • The most common side effect would include, but not be limited to: thinning of the skin in the area to which they are being applied
    • Skin thinning may appear as bruising, stretch marks or dimpling

Intralesional Steroids (Cortisone Injections):

  • Cortisone injections work much better than the creams, gels and lotions
  • The cortisone is injected directly into the spot
  • A lesion 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter would require about 8 injections
  • The injections are repeated at monthly intervals
    • The main side effect from the injections includes, but is not limited to: thinning of the skin
    • Skin thinning may appear as bruising, stretch marks or dimpling
    • Skin thinning will usually resolve spontaneously once treatment is stopped

Phototherapy (Light Therapy):

  • If granuloma annulare is extensive (more than 20 lesions) UVB or PUVA light treatments may be used
  • They are helpful 50% of the time but carry the risk of sunburn and long term use increases the risk of skin cancer
  • These treatments are usually done 2 to 3 times per week for a minimum of 6 to 12 weeks

Oral Medications (Pills):

  • If there are many spots (several hundred) treatment is very disappointing
  • A wide variety of oral medications (pills) have been tried but nothing has even been proven to be helpful
  • Granuloma Annulare will eventually disappear on its own without treatment
  • Sometimes it is best to leave the spots untreated especially in young children