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Granuloma annulare: Who gets and causes

Who gets granuloma annulare?

Medical records indicate that this skin condition is more common in females than males. It also seems that the perforating type of granuloma annulare develops most often in people who live in Hawaii. Otherwise, this disease seems to occur about equally in people of different races and parts of the world.

Most people who get this skin condition are otherwise healthy. Some studies, however, have found that people with certain diseases, such as an HIV infection, may be more likely to develop granuloma annulare.

Children tend to get the localized and subcutaneous types of granuloma annulare. The generalized and perforating types are more common in older adults.

Infants rarely get this skin condition.

You can see what the different types look like at: Granuloma annulare: Signs & symptoms

Some types of this skin condition develop almost exclusively in children, while other types tend to appear in older adults.

Adult woman reading a book to two young girls

What causes granuloma annulare?

It’s still unclear what causes this skin condition. Through studying granuloma annulare, scientists have learned that many things can trigger it. People often develop granuloma annulare after they:

  • Injure their skin

  • Take certain medications

  • Develop another disease

It may be that granuloma annulare is a reaction that occurs in the skin. It may require a trigger, such as injuring your skin. Granuloma annulare often appears after people injure their skin.

Because this skin condition doesn’t develop in everyone who injures their skin, it’s possible that the people who develop it are especially sensitive to whatever injured their skin. For example, people have developed this skin condition after getting bit by an octopus, stung by a bee, or inked by a tattoo artist.

Granuloma annulare may also be more common if someone has a disease, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thyroid disease, or diabetes. Not everyone who has one of these diseases will develop granuloma annulare. Again, it’s possible that the skin is reacting to what’s going on inside the body.

Before we know for sure what causes granuloma annulare, more research is needed.

Getty Images

Howard A and White, Jr., CR. “Non-infectious granulomas.” In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick’s dermatology in general medicine (7th edition). McGraw Hill Medical, USA, 2008:1426-9.

Piette EW and Rosenbach M. “Granuloma annulare: Clinical and histologic variants, epidemiology, and genetics.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2016; 75:457-65.

Piette EW and Rosenbach M. “Granuloma annulare: Pathogenesis, disease associations and triggers, and therapeutic options.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2016; 75:467-9.

Prendiville JS. “Granuloma annulare.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:369-73.