Erythema Nodosum

Erythema Nodosum: Overview

Erythema nodosum is a fairly uncommon, but distinctive, clinical syndrome.  It consists of a reaction in the skin and deeper tissues that almost always occurs on the shins.

Diagnose your symptoms now!
  • understand what's happening to your body
  • identify any nutritional deficiencies
  • learn what you should be doing right now

Incidence; Causes and Development

It is more common in women than in men.

The real significance of erythema nodosum lies in the possibility of a serious underlying disease.  Although in some cases no such underlying cause is found, most are associated with either a drug that has been taken, an inflammatory condition elsewhere in the body, or an infection.

Drugs that can cause erythema nodosum include penicillin (in all its forms), sulfa drugs, and oral contraceptives.  The disease's association with oral contraceptives and sulfa, a drug component that is commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, may be why it is seen more frequently in women.

Sarcoid, an inflammatory condition of unknown cause that can affect almost any organ, and inflammatory bowel disease (cause also unknown) may both also be associated with erythema nodosum.

Finally, all kinds of infections, ranging from the common, such as strep throat, to the uncommon, such as coccidioidomycosis (a fungal disease mostly seen in the southwestern U.S.), may be associated with erythema nodosum.  Chlamydia, tuberculosis, and other bacterial and fungal infections may also be associated with erythema nodosum, but fungal infections involving only the skin, such as athlete's foot, are not.

Erythema nodosum is not an allergic reaction to these conditions or drugs, nor does it contain any infectious organisms such as tuberculosis bacilli or strep germs.  Why some people develop these odd reactions to illness, drugs, or infections that many of us have or take, is completely unknown.

Signs and Symptoms

Usually, several tender red nodules are present on both legs.  There may be fever, aching joints, and fatigue.  Over a period of weeks, the nodules become less tender, turn purplish, and heal without scarring.  Rarely, they recur periodically.

Prognosis

Since the erythema itself is not dangerous and heals without treatment, doctors will spend most of their time and effort trying to rule out an underlying cause.

On This Page

Erythema Nodosum:

Recommendations for Erythema Nodosum:

Drug

Antibiotics

Some experts suggest treating all cases with penicillin (if penicillin was not the underlying cause), because strep infection is frequently the underlying condition.

Report by The Analyst™
Click to see sample report
Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

Your body is a highly complex, interconnected system.  Instead of guessing at what might be wrong, let us help you discover what is really going on inside your body based on the many clues it is giving.

Our multiple symptom checker provides in-depth health analysis by The Analyst™ with full explanations, recommendations and (optionally) doctors available for case review and answering your specific questions.

KEY

Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with