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Approach to the patient with annular skin lesions

Rashmi Unwala, MD
Section Editor
Erik Stratman, MD
Deputy Editor
Abena O Ofori, MD


A wide variety of cutaneous and systemic disorders present with annular (ring-like) skin lesions (table 1). The careful assessment of lesion characteristics and accompanying clinical features is valuable for narrowing the differential diagnosis.

Diagnostic clues for the identification of disorders that present with annular lesions will be reviewed here. Greater detail on many of the disorders discussed below is available elsewhere in UpToDate.


Annular skin lesions are figurate lesions characterized by a ring-like morphology. Although plaques represent the most common presentation of annular lesions, lesions may also be macular, nodular, or composed of grouped papules, vesicles, or pustules.

Additional terms that are frequently used to describe the characteristics of annular lesions include:

Arcuate – Consists of arc-shaped lesions that represent incompletely formed annular lesions (picture 1)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 15, 2016.
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