What Is Erythema Nodosum? Its Causes, Symptoms And Home Remedies

Erythema nodosum is an inflammatory disorder which affects the layer of fat located below the skin. This condition is also referred to as panniculitis. This condition leads to the formation of typical red rounded lumps on the surface of the skin, which is usually tender and sensitive to touch.

While in most cases the condition is idiopathic in nature, occasionally the condition is infectious in origin.

Erythema Nodosum resolves within six to eight weeks and doesn’t require any treatment.

What Causes Erythema Nodosum?

In more than half the number of cases, the condition is not associated with any specific causative factor, however here are some common causes,

  • Infections caused due to streptococcus, Chalmydia, Hepatitis B, Mononucleosis, Mycoplasma, Mycobacteria, coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, syphilis, tuberculosis, Yersinia and Psittocosis.
  • Pregnancy is considered to be another trigger for the development of this condition.
  • Certain medications like amoxicillin, sulfonamides, progestin and birth control pills can also trigger the onset of the condition.
  • The development of the condition is also linked with leukemia, sarcoidosis, rheumatic fever, ulcerative colitis and lymphoma.

In general the condition is relatively rare affecting one per 3500 people per year.

While the condition is more frequently observed among individuals between the age group of 20-35 years, it can occur at any age. Epidemiologically, the condition is more frequently observed in adult women compared to adult men, though it has equal prevalence among boys and girls.

Erythema Nodosum Symptoms

The condition is most frequently observed on the shin, however it may be found on other parts of the body including the ankles, thighs, buttocks and arms.

The lesion appears as a firm, flat, red, hot and painful lump, which may range between a few centimeters to an inch in diameter. The patch gradually becomes purplish in color and eventually fades to become a flat brown patch. In addition to the localized symptoms, the condition is associated with other systemic symptoms which include,

  • Fever with generalized feeling of ill-health and weakness
  • Joint pain with swelling around the affected areas

Home Remedies For Erythema Nodosum

The condition is usually very distressing but not harmful. The symptoms associated with the condition usually regress and disappear within a six weeks. However in order to treat the condition, diagnosis of the condition is essential using punch biopsy, throat swab ( to rule of streptococci infection) and Chest X ray ( to rule of tuberculosis or sarcoidosis). Some of the simple home based treatment options include the following,

  • Turmeric is has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it most suitable for the management of inflammatory condition of the skin. Turmeric can be applied locally or taken internally. Add a tablespoon to turmeric to a glass of warm milk and consume thrice a day. Alternatively prepare a paste of turmeric with raw honey and apply it on the skin.
  • Local application of potassium iodide is also useful in clearing up the nodules.
  • Alternating hot compression with cold compression can help reduce the discomfort and the distress associated with the skin condition.
  • Bed rest while keeping the legs elevated above the level of the heart is considered to be useful in reducing pain. This position allows blood from the lower extremities to easily flow to the heart and thereby enhance blood supply to the skin.  Some experts recommend the use of supportive stockings and bandages on the legs.

Treatment of the underlying causative factor/ infectious disease plays a primary role in the management of the condition.

2 thoughts on “What Is Erythema Nodosum? Its Causes, Symptoms And Home Remedies

  • March 18, 2014 at 2:49 am

    I dealt with erythema nodosum when I was around 35-36 years old. It was the most awful thing I have ever gone through. It took 9-12 months to get over. I was pretty much crippled due to it. I had massive amounts of steroids, the most I could take at one time and tapered down. It continued for the entire 9-12 months and it did leave scarring. It was devastating. I fear I have got this problem again and do not want to go through this pain again. Can you suggest remedies?

    • March 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Erythema nodosum is a rare inflammatory condition where small painful nodules develop under the skin. It is mostly found in lower limbs in front of the knees. The condition is more prevalent in women than in men. The exact cause is not clear, but it is believed to be due to infection, auto immune problem, allergy etc. The condition usually does not require any treatment and gets resolved in six to eight weeks. However, it is possible to reduce inflammatory process and pain with natural medicine. Turmeric is time tested natural product having anti inflammatory properties. Mix a pinch of turmeric powder in one teaspoon of honey. Consume it daily. Apply hot and cold fomentation at the painful site. Avoid activities which aggravate the condition.


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