Weber-Christian Disease

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Weber-Christian disease facts

  • Weber-Christian disease is an uncommon inflammatory condition of the fatty tissues of the body.
  • It's a disease of unknown cause.
  • It most commonly affects the thighs and legs of women.
  • It's difficult to treat and may heal with permanent scars.

What is Weber-Christian disease? What are the risk factors for this disease?

Weber-Christian disease is an uncommon inflammatory disease of the fatty tissues of the body. Weber-Christian disease is also referred to as idiopathic lobular panniculitis (ILP) and relapsing febrile nodular panniculitis syndrome.

The term Weber-Christian often refers to a group of diseases that involve the deep fat. These disorders first appear on the skin as reddish, tender nodules. Mostly, Weber-Christian describes cases of recurring inflammation of special sections of fat called lobules. The exact cause of Weber-Christian panniculitis is unknown. The disorder is frequently associated with systemic symptoms such as fever and body aches.

Weber-Christian disease is most commonly seen in females 30-60 years of age. It can occur in both sexes, in all ages, and rarely in infants. There are no other known risk factors.

Usually, both sides of the body are affected, and the thighs and lower legs are the most frequent areas. The inflamed areas can lose their blood supply, the skin can actually die in the area, ooze yellowish drainage, and become infected. Scarring is common.

The appearance of the skin symptoms are usually accompanied by fever and malaise (feeling poorly). The skin lumps may vary in size but are usually small, the size of two to three fingertips or about 1-2 cm in size. The skin lumps may gradually flatten, soften, and start to decrease over several weeks. Frequently, the areas heal with a brownish or tan discoloration and leave a sunken scar from the underlying fat necrosis. Less commonly, the skin discoloration may take weeks to months to fade away completely and leave no scar.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/13/2016

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