Panniculitis is a disorder in which the fat becomes inflamed and forms nodules. It is an extremely rare disease, and it takes on a variety of forms, including:

Lobular Panniculitis: Involves subcutaneous fat (the layer of fat just beneath the skin). Tender, red lesions appear in the skin. The number of lesions varies greatly. As the disease progresses, the lesions become less tender and less hard. The lesions heal over a period of weeks, leaving a scar which can be described as a dent in the skin. A variant is liquefying panniculitis, in which the lesions leak a yellowish oily fluid, and the cells in the lesions die. There is no specific treatment.

Systemic Nodular Panniculitis, also known as Weber-Christian Disease: Involves cutaneous fat and the layer of fat surrounding the internal organs. Symptoms include the following: a general feeling of discomfort, internal pain, fatigue, weight loss, enlargement of the liver, intestinal perforation, swelling in various internal organs, excessive discharge of fat in the feces, increased white blood cell count, and vomiting. There is no specific treatment.

Poststeriod Lobular Panniculitis: Occurs most often in children who receive large doses of steroids over a long period of time, and quit taking them suddenly. Lesions may occur in the internal organs.

Physical Lobular Panniculitis: This type of panniculitis is caused by physical trauma, cold injury, obese breasts (in women over 50), or injection of silicone into the penis or breasts.

There are many more types and causes of panniculitis. The method of diagnosis usually involves a biopsy.

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