Category Archives: Around the Globe

Pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans (PD-PSV) is a rare disorder characterized by mucocutaneous involvement and associated with inflammatory bowel disease. A 42-year-old woman with ulcerative colitis who manifested verrucous and pyogenic lesions on her scalp, neck, axillae, inguinal areas, umbilicus, trunk and oral cavity for about 11 months is described. She also experienced general fatigue and swelling in her lower extremities. Histology revealed eosinophilic inflammation with microabscesses and pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia, but she was negative on direct immunofluorescence for IgA, IgG and C3. She was diagnosed with PD-PSV and treated with infusions of 20% human albumin (100 mL) for 5 days, followed by methylprednisolone (40 mg/d), with remission of lesions observed after 1 month. The differential diagnosis of PD-PSV and pemphigus vegetans is discussed.

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Introduction: Though oral aphthosis is common, it has a significant impact on the quality of life in the patients. It is the most common oral ulcerative condition encountered in clinical practice. This study describes the characteristics and patterns of oral aphthosis seen at a tertiary dermatological centre in Singapore, with emphasis in evaluating the management gaps and in identifying underlying systemic diseases and nutritional deficiencies. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective review of medical records over a 10-year period between June 2000 and June 2010. Two hundred and thirteen patients were identified using the search terms ‘oral ulcers’, ‘aphthous ulcers’, ‘oral aphthosis’, and ‘Behcet’s disease’. Patients with Behcet’s disease without oral ulcers and other diagnoses such as pemphigus vulgaris, lichen planus and herpes simplex were

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excluded. The remaining patients were evaluated with regard to demographic characteristics, characteristics of oral ulcers, associated connective tissue disorders and nutritional deficiencies, diagnostic tests results, treatment response as well as follow-up duration. Results: One hundred and seventy-five patients were included in this study. One hundred and one patients had recurrent oral aphthosis, with 77 having simple aphthosis and 24 having complex aphthosis. Fourteen patients (8%) fulfilled the International Study Criteria (ISG) for Behcet’s disease, of which, 85.71% had complex aphthosis. The therapeutic ladder for such patients ranged from topical steroids and colchicine through to oral corticosteroids and/or dapsone therapy. Conclusion: Recurrent oral aphthosis is a niche condition in which dermatologists are well-poised to manage. This study demonstrates that a more definitive management and therapeutic algorithm for oral aphthosis are needed for better management patients in the future. In particular, complex aphthosis needs to be monitored for progression onto Behcet’s disease.


Pemphigus is a rare vesiculobullous autoimmune disease that exhibits blistering of the skin and oral cavity. It is caused by autoantibodies directed against antigens on the surface of keratinocytes. All forms of pemphigus are associated with the presence of circulating and skin-fixed autoantibodies. Pemphigus vegetans is a rare clinical variant of pemphigus vulgaris and comprises up to 5 percent of all pemphigus cases. In the following we present the oral presentation of pemphigus vegetans. We describe a 33-year-old man who was referred to our clinic complaining about mouth sores, tooth pain, and multiple pustules. During clinical exam we were able to recognize multiple pustules, ulcerated areas on the gingiva, and whitish mucosal plaques. Clinical, histopathological, and direct immunofluorescence findings were compatible with pemphigus vegetans.

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Context.-Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune vesiculobullous diseases characterized by immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies directed against desmosomal adhesion proteins, with IgG4 being the predominant subclass in active diseases. Direct immunofluorescence for IgG performed on fresh-frozen tissue plays a crucial role in diagnosing pemphigus. However, the diagnosis might be hindered when frozen tissue is not available. Objective.-To evaluate the usefulness of immunohistochemistry for IgG4 performed on paraffin sections as a diagnostic test for pemphigus. Design.-Eighteen immunofluorescence-proven pemphigus cases (12 pemphigus vulgaris, 6 pemphigus foliaceus) were studied. Four normal skin specimens and 32 nonpemphigus vesiculobullous disease specimens served as controls. Paraffin sections of all cases were examined immunohistochemically for IgG4 expression. Positivity was defined as distinct, condensed, continuous immunoreactivity localized to the intercellular junctions of keratinocytes. Results.-The immunostains were independently evaluated in a masked manner by 3 pathologists, with a 100% interobserver agreement. Nine of 12 pemphigus vulgaris cases (sensitivity 75.0%), and 4 of 6 pemphigus foliaceus cases (sensitivity 66.7%), were positive for IgG4 immunostain. The overall sensitivity was 72.2%. One control specimen (bullous pemphigoid) showed IgG4 positivity (specificity 97.2%). In specimens demonstrating acantholysis, 8 of 10 pemphigus vulgaris cases (sensitivity 80.0%) and 4 of 4 pemphigus foliaceus cases (sensitivity 100.0%) were positive for IgG4. The overall sensitivity for specimens with acantholytic lesions was 85.7%. Conclusion.-Immunohistochemistry for IgG4 provides a reasonably sensitive and highly specific test for diagnosing pemphigus, especially when frozen tissue is not available, and active acantholytic lesions are examined.

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Rosacea is a common dermatosis that can involve the bald area of the scalp. We report the case of a man presenting clinical symptoms of rosacea of the forehead and the scalp, but with a histological picture of familial chronic benign pemphigus.


A 47-year-old man with a history of Hailey-Hailey disease had been presenting facial dermatosis for 5 years. The clinical features were erythema with pustules and scales located on the mid-forehead and the androgenic bald area of the frontal scalp. The histological aspect of the skin biopsy showed suprabasilar clefting and ancantholysis at all levels of the epidermis and sparse perivascular infiltrate. Direct immunofluorescence was negative. These findings were typical of Hailey-Hailey disease. Based on clinical findings, and without taking account of the skin biopsy results, treatment with doxycycline and a topical antifungal was administered for 3 months, leading to remission of symptoms.


The site of rosacea on the bald area of the scalp in males is described in the literature, and when present, is probably enhanced by exposure to UV radiation. In this patient, the histological features were interpreted as histopathologically equivalent to Köbner phenomenon.

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The clinical and epidemiological features of pemphigus vulgaris (PV) are well documented but there remain few reports of oesophageal involvement of PV. Although previously considered to be rare, recent reports have suggested that up to 87% of patients with PV may have symptoms, or endoscopic features, of oesophageal disease that may be poorly responsive to conventional corticosteroid-sparing immunosuppression.

The present report details the clinical and immunological features of a 53 year old Asian female who developed symptoms and signs of oesophageal PV during therapy with azathioprine and decreasing prednisolone dosage. Oesophageal involvement occurred during stable oral disease.

Oesophageal involvement can occur without significant oro-cutaneous lesions and immunological evidence of PV. This suggests that immunological targets for oesophageal disease may differ from those of other mucocutaneous areas, and that conventional first-line systemic therapy may not be effective for oesophageal lesions.

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A 14-year-old male presented with seven years history of recurrent episodes of fluid filled, itchy and eroded lesions over the body not responding to oral corticosteroids and azathioprine. Dermatological examination revealed crusted plaques and erosions in a seborrheic distribution. Histopathology of skin lesions and direct immunofluorescence were characteristic of pemphigus foliaceus. He was treated with dexamethasone pulse therapy with inadequate response. However, relapsing skin lesions revealed a circinate arrangement with a predilection to trunk and flexures. In view of clinical features suggestive of IgA pemphigus, he was started on dapsone, to which he responded dramatically in four weeks. However, repeat biopsy continued to reveal features of pemphigus foliaceus and ELISA for anti- desmoglein 1 antibodies was positive.


Inherent to some immunobullous disorders is potential for intraepidermal or dermal–epidermal junction fragility, a phenomenon that may compromise biopsy specimen integrity and direct immunofluorescence (DIF) interpretation. In these situations, cutaneous adnexal structures (e.g. hair follicles, sweat apparatus) usually remain intact. Whether periadnexal DIF findings are reliable in diagnosing immunobullous conditions is unknown.


We evaluated 56 cutaneous specimens with diagnostic immunoglobulin (Ig) deposition patterns that contained adnexal structures. In a corollary study, we examined 145 hematoxylin-eosin-stained frozen specimens to determine biopsy factors associated with the presence of adnexal structures.


Periadnexal DIF findings offered diagnostic sensitivity in conditions with linear or cell-surface Ig deposition or lupus band. Periadnexal DIF findings were unreliable in dermatitis herpetiformis. Biopsy specimens from scalp and genitalia were most likely to contain folliculosebaceous units and sweat duct apparatus, respectively. Relative depth of biopsy correlated directly with the likelihood of identifying sweat duct apparatus but not folliculosebaceous units.


Periadnexal DIF findings may add diagnostic sensitivity in DIF evaluation of pemphigoid, pemphigus and lupus erythematosus. Pathologists can guide clinicians to biopsy certain anatomic sites and to obtain sufficient biopsy depth to increase the probability of capturing adnexal structures and, therefore, diagnostic yield from DIF specimens.

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Background.  Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) and pemphigus foliaceus (PF) are autoimmune vesicobullous disorders with IgG autoantibodies directed against desmoglein (Dsg)1 and 3, which lead to intraepidermal acantholysis.

Aim.  To characterize the clinical and immunological profile of patients with PF or PV with umbilical involvement.

Methods.  In total, 10 patients (7 women, 3 men; age range 24–70 years, disease duration 3–16 years) diagnosed with either PV (n = 5) or mucocutaneous PF (n = 5) were assessed according to their clinical features, histopathology and immunological findings .

Results.  Erythema, erosions, crusts and vegetating skin lesions were the main clinical features of the umbilical region. DIF of the umbilical region gave positive results for intercellular epidermal IgG and C3 deposits in eight patients and for IgG alone in the other two. Indirect immunofluorescence with IgG conjugate showing the typical pemphigus pattern was positive in all 10 patients, with titres varying from 1 : 160 to 1 : 2560. ELISA with recombinant Dsg1 gave scores of 24–266 in PF and 0–270 in PV. Reactivity to recombinant Dsg3 was positive in all five patients with PV (ELISA 22–98) and was negative in all PF sera.

Conclusions.  All 10 patients with pemphigus with umbilical presentation had the clinical and immunopathological features of either PF or PV. This peculiar presentation, not yet completely elucidated, has rarely been reported in the literature. A possible explanation for this unique presentation may be the presence of either novel epitopes or an association with embryonic or scar tissue located in the umbilical-cord region.

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High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy is used in patients with severe autoimmune blistering diseases that are refractory to standard immunosuppressive therapy. To determine the efficacy and frequency of adverse events of IVIG therapy, we retrospectively analysed data for 16 patients with pemphigus vulgaris, pemphigus foliaceus, paraneoplastic pemphigus, bullous pemphigoid and paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid. Frequency of adverse reactions and efficacy of IVIG were analysed over time with a scoring system for every 6 months of IVIG therapy. Headache (43.8%) and fatigue (43.8%) were the most common side-effects recorded; serious adverse reactions did not occur. There was good overall efficacy, as measured by clinical response rates using a clinical score, as well as indicated by a mean reduction of 75.8% in the starting steroid dose.

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