Connective tissue panniculitis: lupus panniculitis, dermatomyositis, morphea/scleroderma


Christopher B. Hansen, MD, University Health Care Department of Dermatology, 30 North 1900 East, 4A330 School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, or email:


Panniculitis is an uncommon cutaneous manifestation of connective tissue diseases. Our discussion will include panniculitis occurring in the setting of lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, and scleroderma/morphea. These subtypes of panniculitis are unified by an active inflammatory stage of the disease that can progress to develop scarring, atrophy, and calcifications. Treatment is most effective if initiated during the active phase of the disease and often requires systemic therapy because of the location of the inflammation. Antimalarials are the initial treatment of choice for most cases of lupus erythematosus panniculitis, whereas corticosteroids in combination with other steroid-sparing immunosuppressive agents are the first-line treatment for panniculitis in patients with dermatomyositis. The appropriate treatment for panniculitis in the setting of morphea/scleroderma varies based on clinical severity.