(See also Introduction to Hypersensitivity Reactions and Inflammatory Skin Disorders Introduction to Hypersensitivity and Inflammatory Skin Disorders The immune system plays a vital role in maintaining the health of all the tissues of the body. The immune system reacts to invaders, such as microorganisms, foreign substances, or cancer cells... read more .)
There are many causes of panniculitis. Infections, cold temperatures, injury, systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory connective tissue disorder that can involve joints, kidneys, skin, mucous membranes, and blood vessel walls. Problems in the... read more , disorders of the pancreas, inflammatory disorders (such as inflammatory bowel disease and polyarteritis nodosa), and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a hereditary disorder in which a lack or low level of the enzyme alpha-1 antitrypsin damages the lungs and liver. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is caused by... read more . Erythema nodosum is a type of panniculitis.
Panniculitis is characterized by tender, red skin bumps (nodules) that originate deep in the layer of fat beneath the skin (subcutaneous). They tend to be large, measuring several centimeters in diameter. The bumps are most common on the legs and arms and occur less often on the buttocks, trunk, and face.
People may have symptoms of general bodywide inflammation such as fever, joint and muscle pain, and feeling ill.
Doctors base the diagnosis on the results of a physical examination.
The diagnosis of panniculitis is sometimes confirmed when doctors remove a bump or a small piece of one and then analyze it with a microscope (biopsy Biopsy Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more ).
There is no specific treatment for panniculitis.
Doctors may give nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation. Other drugs that may help include drugs that are used for malaria; dapsone; or thalidomide.
Corticosteroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants) or chemotherapy drugs may be given to people whose symptoms are getting worse.
Any causes are also treated.