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What Is Erythema? - Definition, Symptoms & Causes

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  • 0:00 Erythema Defined
  • 0:45 Causes and Symptoms of…
  • 1:40 Overview of Types
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Heather Zonts

Heather has taught in AD and BSN Nursing programs and has a master's degree in nursing.

Have you ever wondered what that red area on your skin is called? This lesson will review what erythema is, associated symptoms of erythema, and potential causes.

Erythema Defined

Have you ever seen a red rash or a reddened area on your skin? Erythema is the term used when the skin becomes reddened. This reddening occurs when capillaries dilate and epithelial (skin) cells are damaged. The damage occurs because immune cells invade the skin, causing inflammation and cell death. Typically, you see this occur when an area of the skin is infected, injured, or inflamed. Different types of erythema exist, including erythema multiforme, erythema toxicum, erythema nodosum, erythema infectiosum, erythema migrans, and erythema marginatum.

Causes and Symptoms of Erythema

Each type of erythema has different causes for the skin changes. However, in most cases, infection and allergic reactions or autoimmune response, the body attacking its own immune system, can account for a majority of these changes. In the case of erythema caused by an infection, this is typically from a virus.

The symptoms of erythema include a reaction with the skin that presents as either nodules, a rash, or circular reddened areas, to name a few. Remember the causes of this illness are typically associated with infection or autoimmune responses; therefore, this is not isolated to the skin. It affects other parts of the body as well. In addition to skin symptoms, some individuals will experience fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and itching. Many times diagnosing the type of erythema occurs after symptoms present themselves unless you are aware of an autoimmune disorder you may already suffer from.

Overview of Types

Now let's look at the different types of erythema and what causes them, as well as some symptoms.

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