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Anetoderma, also called macular atrophy or dermatitis atrophicans maculosa, is a benign skin condition which occurs due to an abnormal loss of skin elasticity. This loss of skin elasticity results in the formation of a bulging pouch of skin which is flaccid enough to yield to finger pressure. This skin condition is slightly more common in women, and most people with the condition are between twenty and forty years of age.
In some cases, the appearance of lesions occurs after the development of a non-specific inflammatory skin condition. Secondary anetoderma, which is caused by another medication condition, has a wide range of causes. These lesions may develop as a result of acne, B-cell lymphoma, lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, syphilis, and several other diseases.
The reason why these skin lesions develop is unknown. In addition, it is not known whether the non-specific inflammatory skin condition which occurs in some people causes lesion development or is simply an associated condition. One explanation for the development of these skin lesions is that the production of elastin, a fibrous protein which gives skin its elastic quality, becomes defective in discrete areas of skin. This defect leads to the production of skin which does not have the elastic quality, and forms the pouch-like skin lesions.
Symptoms are typically limited to the appearance of skin lesions; the condition does not cause any other signs or symptoms. It is common for many lesions to appear at the same time, with common sites including the upper arms, upper body, and thighs. It is less common for lesions to develop on the neck and face. The lesions are usually small, with regular edges, and tend to be blue or greyish-white in color.
Once lesions develop, they generally do not change in size, color, or in any other aspect. New lesions may continue to develop over time after the appearance of the first lesions. In advanced stage anetoderma hundreds of lesions may develop, to the extent that patches of lesions which are close together may coalesce into a large formation of raised skin.
There is no treatment for this skin condition. Medications such as steroids and vitamin E that are often used in the treatment of skin disorders have proven ineffective in this case. When only small numbers of lesions are present they can be removed via surgery; however in cases where there are many lesions, this is not a practical option due to the extent of the surgery which would be required.