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What is Erythema Gyratum Repens?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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There are many types of erythema, or conditions causing rash and reddening of the skin, but erythema gyratum repens typically appears because of an underlying condition. In the majority of instances cancer is the culprit, however, certain autoimmune diseases or infections may give rise to the condition. Treating erythema gyratum repens generally involves resolving the underlying affliction.

Symptoms of erythema gyratum repens usually begin with a dry, raised circular skin lesion on the trunk of the body. Similar to the pattern of wood grain, the skin develops concentric lines of reddening around the primary lesion. These dry, itchy, red patches of skin continue forming throughout the surface of the body with the exclusion of the palms and soles. Health care providers can prescribe topical steroids to reduce discomfort and inflammation. Topical antibiotics are generally provided in the event of infection caused by scratching and contaminating irritated areas.

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When erythema gyratum repens is cancer-related the skin condition typically begins around nine months before tumor detection. Researchers believe that antigens produced by cancer cells reacting with similar substances in the skin may be the cause of the reaction. Tumors byproducts might also alter the skin in such a way as to produce an immune response from the body. Scientists also speculate that the cancerous cells produce antigens and antibodies, which then combine with skin cells. Breast, lung, stomach or other cancers may result in the development of erythema gyratum repens. Following cancer diagnosis and treatment, the skin condition typically subsides.

Persons having the autoimmune disease lupus, develop abnormal antibodies, which attack different systems in the body, including the skin. This type of erythema may appear along with other types of skin eruptions, and health care providers can prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation and irritation or use various antimalarial medications to treat the overall symptoms associated with lupus.

An autoimmune disease known as bullous pemphigoid may generate erythema gyratum repens along with large blisters erupting on the skin in various body locations. For this condition, physicians generally prescribe steroids along with antibiotics after the blisters rupture. This systemic malady might also occur in the presence of cancerous tissue, and diagnosing and treating the cancer eliminates the skin eruptions.

Tuberculosis or vascular infections may migrate to skin tissue and elicit and immune response. Once the infections are resolved with medication, the lesions disappear. Certain fungal infections might also produce the typical wood grain skin pattern. Treating the infection generally eliminates the problem.

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