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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

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Dermatology Online Journal is an open-access, refereed publication intended to meet reference and education needs of the international dermatology community since 1995. Dermatology Online Journal is supported by the Department of Dermatology UC Davis, and by the Northern California Veterans Administration.

Volume 28, Issue 1, 2022


Clinical presentation of verruca vulgaris in HIV

Background: Immunocompromised patients, including those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have been observed to have verrucae that are more extensive and treatment-resistant compared to those in immunocompetent patients. However, there is a critical lack of data in the current literature on the characteristics of verruca vulgaris in individuals with HIV.

Methods: This retrospective chart review included a cohort of HIV-positive individuals and a control group of immunocompetent individuals presenting to an outpatient, county hospital-based dermatology clinic for evaluation of verruca vulgaris between the years of 2016 and 2018. Clinical characteristics, including gender, age, last CD4 count, viral load, antiretroviral therapy adherence, and total number and location of lesions were recorded.

Results: A total of 66 patients (33 HIV-positive, 33 immunocompetent) were included in the study. HIV-positive status was significantly associated with a higher total number of lesions (42% of immunocompromised patients versus 21% of immunocompetent patients presented with four or more lesions, P=0.04) as well as location of lesions on the face, scalp, and neck (51.5% versus 9.1%, P<0.001).

Conclusions: HIV-positive status may be associated not only with a higher burden of verruca vulgaris lesions but also a higher number of lesions in locations at or above the neck.


Ethnic distribution of populations in the highest and lowest dermatologist-dense areas: is there more to the story?

Several studies in the past decade have highlighted the lack of adequate dermatological care in skin of color (SOC) patients. This inquiry has led to further research to identify the sources of this disparity. Previous studies have highlighted the uneven geographic distribution of dermatologists, with a higher density of dermatologists in urban areas compared to other areas. However, the exact ethnic populations served by these dermatologists has remained largely uncharacterized. The purpose of this study was to compare the ethnic distributions in the ten highest and lowest dermatologist-dense areas across the United States to determine if there is equal access to dermatological care for minorities. Stratified by ethnicities, the highest dermatologist-dense areas consisted of 60% White alone (not Hispanic or Latino), 13% Hispanic or Latino, 13% Asian alone, and 12% Black or African American. Conversely, the least dermatologist-dense areas consisted of 45% White alone (not Hispanic or Latino), 28% Black or African American, 21% Hispanic or Latino, and 4% Asian alone. Our analysis highlights the presence of larger proportions of SOC patients in the lowest dermatologist-dense areas and this lack of access to dermatologists may contribute to inferior dermatological care and outcomes in Hispanic or Latino, and Black or African American minorities.

Teledermatology during COVID-19: a comparison of video and telephone visits with patient-uploaded images at an urban academic medical center

The COVID-19 pandemic stimulated adoption of teledermatology via video and telephone modalities by outpatient dermatology clinics. However, it was unknown how patient-related factors may have impacted, whether video or phone visits were used, and if visit modality impacted management. Consequently, we conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of teledermatology visits occurring between March 30, 2020 and May 30, 2020 at an urban tertiary care center. A total of 788 teledermatology visits including 525 video visits and 263 telephone visits, mostly supplemented by patient-uploaded images, were analyzed. Patient age (P<0.001) and visit type (new versus return patient status), (P<0.001) were significant predictors of likelihood of video visit. No significant difference between video and telephone visits was found with regard to frequency of treatment modification (P=0.52), frequency of biopsy referral (P=0.73), biopsy noncompliance rate (P=0.44), or proportion of biopsies showing a new malignant lesion (P=0.92). With age as a significant predictor of visit modality, maintaining both video and phone modalities could prove useful to maximize patient participation. It appears either can be used without concern that choice of modality would impair the ability to change treatment, recognize a lesion requiring biopsy, recognize a new malignant lesion, or negatively affect compliance with biopsy.

Case Report

Cutaneous perivascular epithelioid cell tumor (PEComa): case report and world literature review of clinical and molecular characteristics

Perivascular epithelioid cell tumor (PEComa) expresses melanocytic and smooth muscle markers. A man with a primary malignant cutaneous (distal left forearm) PEComa is reported. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated MiTF, HMB-45, caldesmon, desmin, and smooth muscle actin, as well as BCL1, CD10, and CD68. Next generation sequencing showed four pathogenic genomic aberrations involving BIRC3, FANCC, TP53, and TSC1 genes. His work-up was negative for metastatic disease; a wide local excision was performed. Including the reported patient, cutaneous PEComa has been described in 65 individuals: primary benign (N=58), primary malignant (N=5), and metastatic malignant (N=2). Cutaneous PEComa typically presented as a painless, slowly growing nodule of <2 centimeters on the lower extremity of a woman in her fifth decade. The neoplasms consisted of epithelioid cells, spindle cells, or both. The most reliable markers were MiTF (100%), HMB45 (94%), and NKIC3 (94%) for melanocytes and smooth muscle actin (43%) and desmin (40%) for smooth muscle. There has been no reported recurrence of a primary cutaneous benign or malignant PEComa after complete excision. Genomic alterations in malignant PEComas frequently involve TSC1 and TSC2 genes (mTOR activators), as well as TFE3 fusions. In November 2021, the FDA approved nab-sirolimus (mTOR inhibitor) for PEComas.

Complete response of Merkel cell carcinoma with talimogene laherparepvec (TVEC) monotherapy

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare neuroendocrine neoplasm, warranting surgical excision with sentinel lymph node biopsy. In later stages, adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation are required owing to its aggressive malignant behavior. We describe a 62-year-old woman who presented with multifocal recurrence of MCC and was not a candidate for immunotherapy or surgery. The patient underwent four treatments of intratumoral talimogene laherparepvec (TVEC) and demonstrated a complete response with no histologic evidence of remaining MCC on four scouting biopsies. Although TVEC therapy is currently approved for the treatment of advanced stage melanoma, it is still being investigated in MCC. This case supports the use of TVEC as monotherapy in select patients with locally advanced MCC who are not candidates for surgery or systemic immunotherapy.

Toxic erythema of chemotherapy induced by liposomal doxorubicin, a clinical case

A 76-year-old woman presented to the medical oncology outpatient clinic with painful, burning, pruritic erythematous plaques involving both palms and axillae that had suddenly appeared five days before. Examination revealed no additional relevant findings and laboratory studies did not show any alteration. The patient had been recently diagnosed with a high-grade angiosarcoma of the breast (probably radiation induced) and after frequent local recurrences, was being treated with liposomal doxorubicin (three cycles were administered, the last of which was seven days before the appearance of the mentioned lesions). Oral corticosteroids were started, treatment with liposomal doxorubicin was stopped, and cutaneous biopsies performed that revealed features compatible with toxic erythema of chemotherapy induced by liposomal doxorubicin. Complete resolution of the cutaneous lesions was verified one month after. No signs of recurrence of angiosarcoma were documented at follow-up three months later.

Lichenoid eruption in a child receiving growth hormone for dwarfism

A wide variety of medications have been associated with lichenoid drug eruption. They present similarly or even identically to idiopathic lichen planus, both clinically and histologically. Lichenoid eruption has been associated with recombinant human growth hormone intake in two previous patients. Herein, we describe a young boy who developed a lichenoid eruption following growth hormone injection for dwarfism.

Early onset drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome with lymphopenia, hepatitis, and normal eosinophils induced by BRAF/MEK inhibitor after immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy

Targeted therapy (BRAF/MEK inhibitors) is frequently employed in the treatment of metastatic melanoma following immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy inefficacy or intolerance. Although BRAF inhibitors are commonly associated with cutaneous eruptions, they rarely cause severe cutaneous adverse drug reactions such as drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DIHS). Drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome is a severe drug reaction characterized by extensive eruption often seen in conjunction with fever, facial edema, lymphadenopathy, eosinophilia, atypical lymphocytosis, and variable visceral organ injury characteristically beginning 2-8 weeks after initiating the causative drug. We report a case of atypical DIHS with reduced latency, mucosal involvement, lymphopenia, normal eosinophils, and no lymphadenopathy that occurred secondary to vemurafenib and cobimetinib therapy following melanoma progression while on pembrolizumab. Previous immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy has been associated with atypical DIHS in patients on BRAF/MEK inhibitors. Early recognition of the atypical clinical features of this hypersensitivity reaction is important so that drug discontinuation and corticosteroids can be initiated early.

Case Presentation

A case of pleomorphic dermal sarcoma with perineural invasion treated with Mohs micrographic surgery and adjuvant radiation therapy

Pleomorphic dermal sarcoma (PDS) was recognized in the 2013 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of Soft Tissue and Bone as a clinical entity with adverse histopathologic features compared to the more superficial and less aggressive atypical fibroxanthoma (AFX). Although the gold standard treatment of AFX is Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS), the optimal treatment for PDS has yet to be determined. We report the case of a 71-year-old man with a PDS with perineural invasion on the scalp, with no recurrence one-year post-treatment with MMS and adjuvant radiation therapy. In contrast to wide local excision, MMS offers complete margin control and tissue preservation, which helps minimize scarring and morbidity. The comparative efficacy of MMS versus wide local excision in the treatment of PDS with and without radiation remains unknown and warrants further investigation.

Fixed drug eruption from atezolizumab

Fixed drug eruption (FDE) is a cutaneous drug reaction that tends to recur in the same area (fixed location) upon re-exposure to the offending agent. We present a 48-year-old woman with FDE being treated for metastatic breast cancer with atezolizumab. We believe this is the first reported case of FDE secondary to atezolizumab.

An exuberant case of protothecosis: an emergent disease in tropical dermatology.

Protothecosis is a rare condition caused by the aclorophylated algae of the genus Prototheca. We described an exuberant case treated as sporotrichosis with prolonged course which evolved to arm deformation. Itraconazole treatment for 8 months was inefective.

Photo Vignette

Basal cell carcinoma invasion of an ear piercing

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) development in the context of a piercing is a rare phenomenon, reported in the literature in only six instances. We present a 55-year-old woman with nodular BCC involving her auricular piercing and extending clinically onto the posteroinferior right ear lobule and right post-auricular crease. Histological analysis revealed spread of the BCC through the piercing onto the anterior lobule, with evidence that the cancer utilized the piercing as a low resistance pathway for this microscopic invasion. This case is, to our knowledge, the first report of microscopic BCC present within an auricular piercing itself. Chronic inflammation related to repeated trauma from the embedded jewelry may have played a role in its formation. A piercing may provide a path of least resistance for BCC tumor cells to invade, providing a nidus for recurrence. Careful histological examination with possible complete excision of the piercing is prudent to prevent cancer return.

Undesirable repigmentation in vitiligo patient receiving methotrexate therapy for the treatment of psoriasis: treatment or side effect?

Vitiligo is an acquired skin depigmentation disorder related to the destruction of melanocytes. There are a limited number of case reports and studies in current literature that show methotrexate (MTX) is effective in the treatment. A 44-year-old man presented to our clinic with a one-year history of psoriasis. On dermatological examination, there were erythematous, scaly papules and plaques on knees, elbows, gluteal area, and scalp compatible with psoriasis. In addition there was total depigmentation over the body. He had a 30-year history of vitiligo, beginning localized but progressed gradually and covered the entire body surface. Subcutaneous methotrexate 10mg weekly was started for psoriasis. On the 6th week of methotrexate treatment, he presented to our clinic with newly developed brown macules on his face. The result of the punch biopsy taken from a macule was reported as normal skin findings. Because his body was fully depigmented, his brown melanocytic macules on his face were considered as repigmentation associated with MTX treatment. His MTX treatment was stopped by patient request. On his 6-month follow-up, hypopigmentation was observed at prior repigmented macules. Methotrexate can be considered an alternative treatment for vitiligo patients when topical therapy and phototherapy are ineffective or not applicable.