What is necrobiosis lipoidica?

Necrobiosis Lipoidica is an inflammation of the skin which commonly occurs in patients with conditions such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (Chron's disease or ulcerative colitis) and sarcoidosis.

The condition is relatively rare. More than half the patients with this condition have diabetes.

What causes necrobiosis lipoidica?

The exact cause is unknown. The diseases listed above and smoking are risk factors for developing necrobiosis lipoidica. It is believed that the condition has an autoimmune component where the body's own immune system attacks its' own organs and tissues.

What are the symptoms?

  • Shiny reddish brown patches
  • Grows in size slowly and colour changes to yellow over time
  • Most commonly seen over the lower legs (the front), but may also be found on the face, scalp, arms and trunk
  • Usually not painful (but some patients may experience pain)
  • Ulcers may develop if area is subjected to trauma

How can necrobiosis lipoidica be treated?

  • Avoid trauma
  • Treat underlying condition (e.g. diabetes) effectively
  • Moisturiser creams and steroid based creams
  • Oral medication - Aspirin, Drugs to suppress the immune system may help
  • Steroid injections
  • Phototherapy (PUVA)
  • Laser treatments
  • Surgical excision

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