Erythema Types in Medicine – Rapid Review For Medical Students

Our skin, the largest organ in the human body, is crucial for maintaining life and overall health. It serves as an airtight, watertight and flexible barrier with the outside world and helps with temperature regulation, immune defense, vitamin production and sensation.

However, the skin is unique in that no other organ demands as much attention in states of disease and health. Our skin’s quality and condition significantly contribute to health, wellness, youth, and beauty perceptions. Such a focus even causes self-esteem and mental health problems stemming from scars, acne, and inflammation to abnormal redness of the skin known as erythema.

Erythema stems from the dilation and irritation of the superficial capillaries and the augmented blood flow that imparts a reddish hue to the skin. Often presenting as a rash, erythema can be caused by environmental factors, infection, or overexposure to the sun.

Since exam season is here, this serves as a rapid review to recall the most common types of Erythema!

Erythema Ab Igne (EAI)

  • The skin reaction stems from chronic exposure to infrared radiation in the form of heat. Once considered a common condition of the elderly who stood or sat closely to open fires or electric space heaters. EAI has reduced significantly with the advent of central heating, although it is still found in individuals exposed to heat from other sources. In EAI, the skin and underlying tissue begin to atrophy, causing patients to complain of mild itchiness and a burning sensation.
  • To prevent the progression of EAI, discontinuing contact with the heat source is necessary.

By <a href=”//″ class=”mw-redirect” title=”User:Jmh649″>James Heilman, MD</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Erythema Chronicum Migrans

  • The primary manifestation of Lyme Disease, erythema chronicum migrans appears 7 to 14 days after the infected tick bite. As an expanding red patch of skin, the size of the rash can reach several centimetres in diameter. The central spot surrounded by clear skin ringed by an expanding red rash known as a bull’s-eye is the most typical appearance.
  • Successful treatment of erythema migrans may be accomplished with 20 days of oral doxycyclineamoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.

Bullseye Lyme Disease Rash.jpg
By Hannah Garrison – <a href=”; class=”extiw” title=”en:User:Jongarrison”>en:User:Jongarrison</a>, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Erythema Induratum

  • Erythema induratum from Bazin disease presents as recurring nodules or lumps on the back of the legs in mostly women that ulcerate and scar.
  • Drugs for treatment include isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide, that may be administered orally or intravenously in combination.

An introduction to dermatology (1905) erythema induratum 2.jpg
By Norman Purvis Walker – Walker, Norman Purvis (<span style=”white-space:nowrap”>1905</span>) <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external text” href=””>An introduction to dermatology</a> (3rd ed.), William Wood and company Retrieved on 26 September 2010., Public Domain, Link

Erythema Infectiosum or Fifth Disease

  • Erythema infectiosum is also known as the Fifth disease. It is caused by Parvovirus B19 that affects mostly children. The main clinical feature is the “slapped face” appearance along with a sore throat, mild fever and malaise, and signs of Fifth Disease’s prodrome period. The confluent netlike rash begins on the cheeks and spreads to the trunk and extremities.
  • Children may be given NSAIDs to alleviate and relieve fever, headache and achiness.

Fifth disease.jpg
By Andrew Kerr – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, Public Domain, Link

Erythema Marginatum

  • Erythema marginatum rheumaticum occurs in about 10% of first attacks of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) in children appearing on their trunk, upper arms and legs as pink or red macules or papules spreading in a circular shape. As the lesions advance, the edges become raised, red, and persist intermittently for weeks to months, even after successful ARF treatment.
  • There is no treatment for erythema marginatum specifically as the rash fades on its own.

Erythema Multiforme

  • Erythema multiforme is a cell-mediated cytotoxic reaction in the skin and mucous membranes triggered by Mycoplasma Pneumoniae or Herpes Simplex Virus or even drugs as sulfonamides, penicillin, barbiturates, NSAIDs, & phenytoin. Vesicles and bullae on the soles, palms, and extensor surfaces with a “targetoid” appearance are characteristic of the rash. Without treatment and care by dermatologists, Steven Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) occur as they are severe forms of erythema multiforme.
  • Treatment includes oral antihistamines, analgesics, local skincare, and soothing mouthwashes.

Erythema multiforme minor of the hand.jpg
By <a href=”//″ class=”mw-redirect” title=”User:Jmh649″>James Heilman, MD</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Erythema Nodosum

  • Erythema nodosum is an acute inflammatory reaction involving the subcutaneous fat where the skin becomes red, raised and painful on the anterior portions of the shins and wrist. It is more common in women than men, and although the most identifiable cause is streptococcal pharyngitis, it is associated with coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, tuberculosis, leprosy, sarcoidosis, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids by mouth or local injection may serve as treatment options. Colchicine is also administered to reduce inflammation.

By <a href=”//″ class=”mw-redirect” title=”User:Jmh649″>James Heilman, MD</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum

  • Erythema toxicum neonatorum is a self-limited skin eruption occurring in newborns due to an unknown cause. Erythematous papules, macules and plaques present in all sites except the soles and palms and may last approximately 2-3 weeks.
  • No treatment is necessary for erythema toxicum neonatorum as the lesions regress after 5 days to 2 weeks.

Erythema Elevatum Diutinum (EED)

  • Erythema elevatum diutinum (EED) is a type of necrotising vasculitis characterised by red, purple, or brown papules, plaques, or nodules. It is a rare form of erythema usually found on extensor surfaces overlying the joints, and the buttocks. It is a chronic and progressive skin disease that may last as long as 25 years.
  • The drug of choice for EED is Dapsone because of its rapid onset of action; however, it is possible for lesions to recur the following withdrawal promptly.

Erythema elevatum diutinum on hand.jpg
By <a href=”//;action=edit&amp;redlink=1″ class=”new” title=”User:Dswierc (page does not exist)”>D Swierczek</a> – <span class=”int-own-work” lang=”en”>Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Erythema Gyratum Repens

  • Erythema gyratum repens is a rare paraneoplastic type of annular erythema with a ‘wood-grain’ appearance associated with malignancy. Furthermore, almost half of the patients with erythema gyratum repens have lung cancer and less commonly, oesophageal, breast, and stomach cancer.
  • The rash usually resolves once the malignancy has been removed with surgical resection.

References and Further Reading

Cite this article as: Leah Sarah Peer, Canada, "Erythema Types in Medicine – Rapid Review For Medical Students," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, January 4, 2021,, date accessed: October 1, 2023

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