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What is Anetoderma?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997428 — On Jan 05, 2017

I have this as well. I am 20, and was diagnosed at 14. I have been to many doctors with no hope of cure. Was recommended to NYC to a laser treatment office. They used painful refractor lasers, basically burning my skin to create new skin in hope for some answers. I did this for five months, each time treating new skin with new lasers and heats. The biopsies after this time period showed no change in the skin.

I know how devastating this disease is, but I just want you all to know I have seen the doctors working their butts off to find a cure. I put myself through hell for those months just trying to get some answers. We have to keep trying and experimenting to help others.

By anon298230 — On Oct 19, 2012

I am 28 years old and I´ve got anetoderma all over my back and belly. I´m thinking about getting pregnant but don´t know whats going to happen with my skin on my stomach. Is there anyone who has gotten pregnant with anetoderma on their belly? --Stephanie from Sweden

By anon296154 — On Oct 10, 2012

@Rosalyn: Have you found any help? I acquired Anetoderma about six months ago and it is so devastating. How is your son?

By Marike — On Mar 23, 2011

Anyone had any experience or knowledge of the results/effects of plastic surgery or laser treatments for anetoderma? Or other correctional treatments?

I am finding it hard to search for information and support groups, and the doctors in Norway know very little of this condition.

By aina2285 — On Feb 07, 2011

I started with anetoderma when I was eight years old. Now, Im 26 and my back and stomach is full of it. It makes me feel really sad. Any news?

By anon127924 — On Nov 17, 2010

I am a 13 year old girl who was recently told that I have Anetoderma and it is one of the hardest things ever for me, especially because they appear on my face.

My lesions have been inflamed and then they will die down. My doctor told me that instead of surgery (cutting the lesions out) you can get a laser surgery. What this will do is make the lesions blend into your skin to make them less noticeable and make them your skin tone. This is something that all of you should look into!

By anon100088 — On Jul 28, 2010

I am a 41 year old female who was diagnosed about three years ago. I am interested in natural and alternative treatments.

By anon75671 — On Apr 07, 2010

I started a blog several years ago to try and connect with others that have this. I am 45, got my first lesions at age 14. Got a ton more at age 35! I wish there was a treatment!

By anon55081 — On Dec 04, 2009

My son who is 11 years old has anetoderma. it started appearing on his neck when he was five years old. It has been devastating and he has about 100 lesions. I want him to get help with this. I want to start finding a way to get research started on this. please give me some feedback. i want someone to talk to about this and get some insight. thanks. rosalyn

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