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Panniculitis

By

Julia Benedetti

, MD, Harvard Medical School

Last full review/revision Apr 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
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Panniculitis is inflammation of the fat layer beneath the skin.

  • Panniculitis can develop in people with certain infections, injuries, and autoimmune disorders.

  • Typical symptoms include tender, red bumps under the skin.

  • The diagnosis is based on the person's symptoms and often a biopsy.

  • There is no specific treatment, but doctors may give drugs to relieve symptoms.

Symptoms of Panniculitis

Panniculitis is characterized by tender, red skin bumps (nodules) that originate deep in the layer of fat beneath the skin (the subcutaneous layer). 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.

Diagnosis of Panniculitis

  • A doctor's evaluation

  • Often skin biopsy

Doctors base the diagnosis on the results of a physical examination.

Treatment of Panniculitis

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Immunosuppressants

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.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
ACZONE
THALOMID
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