Prurigo Nodularis Pictures: What Does It Look Like?
This article features pictures of prurigo nodularis, discusses symptoms, when to contact a doctor, and diagnosis.
Learn more about prurigo nodularis, including its causes, treatment, and outlook.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), prurigo nodularis may start with severely itchy skin, followed by visible changes.
Symptoms can look like multiple discolored bumps, areas of hardened skin, or both.
Clinicians may refer to the hardened skin as “plaques” and the bumps as “papules” or “nodules,” depending on their size. A papule is a lesion smaller than 1 centimeter (cm) in diameter. Nodules are lesions that are more than 1 cm in diameter. Nodules also tend to extend into the deeper layers of the skin.
Papules and nodules from prurigo nodularis may be firm and look round or dome-shaped. They can appear symmetrically on the body.
Prurigo nodularis bumps and plaques can also:
- be different colors, including the same color as your surrounding skin, or pink, brown, or black
- be felt; for example, they may feel firm
- vary in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters
- be elevated, depressed, or level with the skin
- cause lichenification of affected areas of skin, particularly after scratching, meaning the skin darkens, thickens, or both
- cause scars on the skin
- cause the skin to crust, break open or form lesions, and bleed, especially after scratching
- cause other skin changes, such as:
- bumpy texture
- scaling skin
- prominent skin lines
Below are pictures of prurigo nodularis.
Prurigo nodularis bumps can appear anywhere on the skin, but they commonly form on the:
- upper back
Prurigo nodularis can trigger an itch-scratch cycle. The itchiness can become more intense after scratching, causing you to continue feeling itchy and wanting to scratch more.
Itchiness may also flare up in response to:
- heat or sweat
- clothing or other sources of irritation to the surface of the skin
Some people may experience short, intense bursts of itchiness. Others may have long lasting or chronic itchiness. Many people scratch until the skin ulcerates or becomes sore. This can increase the risk of infection.
Also, prurigo nodularis often develops alongside other skin conditions that cause itchiness, such as eczema. As a result, you may notice further symptoms in addition to prurigo nodularis.
Additional symptoms can include:
- burning and stinging skin
- skin soreness or tenderness
- dry skin
- sleep problems
- psychological problems, such as depression
- impairment to daily life, such as a withdrawal from social activities
Untreated symptoms may also lead to:
- chronicity, or hard-to-treat, recurrent symptoms
- automatic scratching behavior, which is when a person scratches even when there is no itch
Sometimes areas of skin affected by prurigo nodularis can develop an infection. This is particularly likely if the skin is broken due to scratching.
Symptoms of skin infection include:
- flushed or discolored skin
- swelling or blistering of the skin
- painful skin
- skin that feels warm to the touch
- fever or chills
Contact a doctor if you notice any possible symptoms of infection.
Read more about skin infections, including their symptoms and treatment.
Contact your doctor for any symptoms of prurigo nodularis or severe itching. Also, seek advice if you notice possible symptoms of skin infection.
Prurigo nodularis can develop with other long-term conditions, such as:
- contact dermatitis, a type of eczema
- atopic dermatitis
- chronic itch due to drug use, such as antimalarials, opioids, and targeted cancer treatments
- hay fever
- hepatitis C
- liver disease
- chronic kidney disease
- thyroid disorders
- cancer, such as lymphoma
These conditions may produce additional symptoms. Contact for these a doctor if you experience the following:
- You have new symptoms affecting the skin or other bodily areas.
- Your symptoms do not improve with your prescribed treatment.
- Your symptoms worsen or improve and then come back.
- Your skin becomes broken and does not heal quickly.
- Your symptoms impact your quality of life or feel severe.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, which helps rule out other conditions. They may also want to know whether you use drugs that produce chronic itch, such as:
- targeted cancer treatments
During a physical exam, your doctor will check the characteristics of the papules, nodules, and plaques, such as:
Your doctor may also recommend tests to help diagnose the condition, such as:
- a skin biopsy or scrapings to examine skin samples
- a dermoscopy, a noninvasive method to examine the skin’s surface
- blood tests
- urine and stool analysis
- skin patch testing to rule out allergies
After diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe treatment. According to a 2022 overview, prurigo nodularis can have a positive outlook. However, without treatment, symptoms may continue. Follow your prescribed treatment plan for the best outcome.
Prurigo nodularis is a skin condition that can cause extreme itching and the development of bumps and plaques of hard skin. Symptoms can vary slightly in appearance. Prurigo nodularis pictures show how bumps and plaques may differ in color, size, and form.
Doctors can diagnose prurigo nodularis using a physical exam or diagnostic tests such as a skin biopsy.
Contact your doctor if you notice any symptoms of prurigo nodularis, persistent itching, or infection.