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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 29, Issue 6, 2023


Implementation of a dermatology skin of color educational module for medical students

Research in dermatology education highlights the lack of skin of color (SOC) instruction for medical students, leading to concerning healthcare outcomes. Because of the already limited opportunity for students to have dedicated teaching in pathophysiology, management, and treatment of dermatologic diseases in medical school, we developed an educational module that addresses these gaps. We created a one-hour virtual lecture for medical students focused on common skin diseases tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination with visual images across all skin types. A questionnaire was administered before and after the educational module to assess outcomes comparing disease identification in lighter (Fitzpatrick scale I-III) versus darker (Fitzpatrick scale IV-VI) skin tones and to determine medical school student attitudes. An analysis of 43 examination scores before, and after attending the educational module determined rosacea, psoriasis, and basal cell carcinoma to be conditions in SOC patients that demonstrated the most significant improvement (47.3%, 54.9%, and 30.8%, respectively). Our results also highlighted worse performance outcomes for diseases in SOC in the pre-examination questionnaire. Thus, our study indicates that a concise education module focused on disease presentations inclusive of all skin types may efficiently increase students' ability to identify diseases commonly misdiagnosed in the clinical setting.


ChatGPT offers an editorial on the opportunities for chatbots in dermatologic research and patient care

ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research laboratory, that is trained on massive-scale internet text data to understand a broad range of language styles and topics. As a mature, conversational chatbot, ChatGPT can respond to follow-up questions and produce coherent primary texts based on the user's request. We explore the opportunities and risks of integrating chatbots into dermatologic patient care and research while presenting ChatGPT's response to the same question.

Case Report

When a travel bug gets you down[SS1]: severe, hypotensive African tick bite fever and response to therapy

African tick bite fever, resulting from Rickettsia africae inoculation, is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. We present a United States traveler with African tick bite fever 5 days after she returned from a mission trip to Zimbabwe. The patient exhibited symptomatic hypotension in addition to more typical findings, including fever, fatigue, and a necrotic eschar. The diagnosis was supported by histopathological findings and the patient's symptoms rapidly resolved with oral doxycycline therapy. We believe this case represents the first African tick bite fever diagnosis associated with symptomatic hypotension. This case additionally serves as a reminder of the importance of evaluating patient travel history.

Disseminated blastomycosis with cutaneous involvement in a 57-year-old woman: a case report and review of management

Blastomycosis is an infectious disease produced by the fungal organisms, Blastomyces dermatiditis and Blastomyces gilchristi. We present a 57-year-old woman with pulmonary blastomycosis and secondary cutaneous involvement. Her diagnosis was facilitated by dermatology consultation after approximately one year of delay. In endemic areas including Canada and the USA, individuals are at risk for blastomycosis when non-motile fungal spores are inhaled, thus producing pulmonary disease. The organism may disseminate over time, affecting a variety of extrapulmonary organ systems including the skin. In endemic regions of blastomycosis, this important cutaneous manifestation of disease should be considered with a high index of suspicion as to avoid delayed resolution and adverse outcomes.

Cutaneous type IV hypersensitivity reaction following tebentafusp treatment for uveal melanoma

Tebentafusp is a bispecific protein that recently underwent FDA approval for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma that functions by redirecting cytotoxic T cells to glycoprotein-100, a protein highly expressed in melanoma. Although clinical trials have demonstrated that rashes are common in the first few days of treatment, little is known about skin reactions that develop later in the treatment course. Herein, we describe a type IV hypersensitivity reaction and vitiligo-like depigmentation that developed six weeks into treatment and discuss the possible mechanisms underlying these reactions. The type IV hypersensitivity reaction resolved without intervention within seven weeks of onset, suggesting that tebentafusp can be safely continued in select patients who develop this cutaneous reaction.

Pediatric cutaneous mucormicosis

A 9-year-old boy diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy, was admitted with febrile neutropenia. During his admission, several violaceous plaques appeared on the upper extremities and anterior left hemithorax, which worsened and acquired a necrotic center. We performed a biopsy and histology showed a cutaneous infarction at the dermoepidermal and subcutaneous level. We observed abundant wide hyphae with right-angled branching and a culture isolated Rhizopus oryzae. A plastic surgery consultant performed a surgical debridement of the lesions and treatment was started with intravenous amphotericin B. The patient did well on treatment and after almost a month of hospitalization, he was discharged with oral posaconazole. Mucormycosis is an opportunistic fungal infection associated with immunosuppression, particularly involving prematurity and hematological diseases in the pediatric age group. Multiple lesions, as in our case, are infrequent. The clinical presentation is variable. Direct smear or histological observation is the quickest diagnostic technique whereas culture is the most definitive. The combination of surgical debridement and amphotericin B is the treatment with the highest survival rates.

Linear IgA bullous dermatosis associated with immunotherapy

Linear IgA bullous dermatosis (LABD) is a rare mucocutaneus blistering autoimmune disease caused by IgA autoantibodies. Its clinical manifestation can be indistinguishable from bullous pemphigoid (BP), a similar autoimmune bullous disease caused by IgG and IgE autoantibodies. Although BP has been reported as an adverse cutaneous effect of immunotherapy, LABD has rarely been associated with immunotherapy in the literature. We present the case of a 67-year-old woman with metastatic ovarian cancer receiving anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA4 with new onset pruritic tense bullae to the trunk, hands, elbows (in annular distribution) that occurred after immunotherapy. Skin biopsy showed subepidermal blister with abundant neutrophils on H&E histology, and linear IgA staining at the basement membrane on direct immunofluorescence consistent with the diagnosis of LABD. The condition did not improve on initial prednisone taper, but blisters rapidly resolved a few days after initiation of dapsone therapy. We favor that our patient's LABD is secondary to her immunotherapy. Our case highlights the importance of both H&E histology and direct immunofluorescence in diagnosis of blistering disorders in patients on immunotherapy to help in choosing the most effective treatment option in an attempt to avoid discontinuation of immunotherapy.

Letterer-Siwe disease presenting with gastrointestinal and cutaneous manifestations

Histiocytosis is a set of distinct proliferative illnesses defined by the proliferation and infiltration of varied numbers of dendritic cells, macrophages, and monocytes in the afflicted tissues. The skin and other organs may be impacted by the inflammatory infiltration. It can occur at any age. The severity of the symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the degree and type of organ involvement. Although certain forms of histiocytosis can be fatal, others can be treated successfully without sequelae. Langerhans cell histiocytosis manifests itself clinically in both children and adults. A combination of clinical, histological, and radiological tests is required to achieve a diagnosis. A severe, multisystemic, acute form of Langerhans cell histiocytosis is called Letterer-Siewe illness, which usually affects infants in their first year of life. In this article, we provide a brief literature review and a case study of a 9-month-old girl who presented with recurring gastrointestinal problems as the first sign of Letterer-Siwe disease.

Lupus erythematosus-specific bullous lesions

Lupus erythematosus (LE)-specific bullous lesions are often difficult to distinguish from other bullous diseases presenting in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Herein, we describe a 49-year-old woman with systemic lupus erythematosus with recurrent tense bullae on the forearms. Clinical, histopathologic, and serologic findings led to the diagnosis of LE-specific bullous lesions. We also summarize the diagnostic clues for distinguishing LE-specific bullous lesions, bullous systemic lupus erythematosus, and erythema multiforme-like lesions in LE (Rowell syndrome).

Case Presentation

Linear discoid lupus erythematous simulating en coup de sabre morphea in a female chronic granulomatous disease carrier

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), a subtype of chronic cutaneous lupus may be observed in a linear pattern. A 21-year-old woman with history of chronic granulomatous disease state presented to our clinic for a chronic six-year skin eruption on her left eyebrow, left cheek, and left forehead. A punch biopsy of involved left forehead skin was performed and revealed perivascular and periadnexal lymphohistiocytic infiltrate without features of morphea or panniculitis, confirming the histopathologic changes of cutaneous lupus erythematous. The patient was diagnosed with linear DLE, mimicking en coup de sabre, within Blaschko lines. The pathogenesis for DLE in association with chronic granulomatous disease is ambiguous; however, X-linked lyonization is crucial for both conditions and may explain cooccurrence of disease states.

A case of filgrastim-induced neutrophilic dermatosis of the dorsal hands in a patient with Felty Syndrome

Neutrophilic dermatosis of the dorsal hands (NDDH) is a variant of Sweet syndrome that presents with erythematous bullae, papules/plaques, or pustules on the dorsal hands. It is most commonly associated with hematologic and solid organ malignancies, though cases of NDDH associated with inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatologic disorders, and medication exposure have also been described in the literature. Felty syndrome is a rare complication of long-standing rheumatoid arthritis characterized by neuropathy, splenomegaly, and neutropenia. Granulocyte colony stimulating factors (e.g., filgrastim) can be utilized to rescue the neutropenia observed in Felty syndrome, but this treatment may subsequently cause Sweet syndrome. Herein, we present a 64-year-old man with Felty syndrome and a complex medical history who presented with sudden onset, painful blisters located on the dorsal and palmar aspects of his bilateral hands. Given the patient's past medical history, a broad differential diagnosis, including disseminated fungal and viral infection was initially considered. A punch biopsy of the skin lesion disclosed neutrophilic dermatosis, which together with laboratory data satisfied the von den Driesch criteria for Sweet syndrome. As the lesions were localized exclusively on the patient's hands, the qualification of NDDH was also endorsed.

Recurrence of non-sexually acquired acute genital ulceration following COVID-19 vaccination

There is a rare subset of non-sexually acquired acute genital ulcers, previously called Lipschutz ulcers, that are often preceded by a constitutional prodrome and have been associated with multiple viral and bacterial infections. These ulcers are categorized by some as a variant of complex aphthosis, with one hypothesized etiology involving a non-specific systemic inflammatory response to acute infection or vaccination. Although painful, these lesions resolve over the course of several weeks and recurrence is rare but possible. Recently, there have been reports of genital ulcer development due to either acute infection with COVID-19 or following vaccination against the same. We report a case of non-sexually acquired acute genital ulceration that initially presented in 2008 as Lipschutz labial ulcers associated with acute Epstein-Barr virus infection, with recurrence twelve years later following administration of the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This case report and exhaustive literature review challenges widely accepted views regarding the typical age range of patients affected by non-sexually acquired acute genital ulceration, the sexual history of affected populations, the pathophysiology of lesion occurrence, and possibility of lesion recurrence.

Cutaneous erythematous lupus with acneiform presentation

We present a 57-year-old woman with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), initially treated as acne. She noted blemishes, including nodules and facial swelling for nine months associated with discrete itching of the ears. Examination showed multiple malar nodules, comedones, pustules, atrophic scars, and hyperpigmentation. A biopsy was performed and revealed atrophic epidermis, discrete hyperkeratosis, vacuolar degeneration of basal layer, basal membrane zone with upper dermal lymphohistiocytic inflammatory infiltrate and deep perivascular and peri-adenexal lymphocytes, vascular ectasia, and mucin deposits. The acneiform presentation of CLE is commonly underdiagnosed due to the similarity with inflammatory acne. Histopathologic diagnostic in acneiform lupus is of extreme importance. This case emphasizes the relevance of knowing the notable variety of presentations of CLE and considering this diagnosis.

Symptomatic perineural and intraneural invasion of the trigeminal nerve and subsequent abducens Nerve palsy by cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

A 74-year-old woman who presented initially with trigeminal neuralgia of the left forehead and scalp was later found to have a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) with large-nerve perineural and intraneural invasion of the left supraorbital nerve. Negative histopathologic margins were achieved in three stages of permanent fixed tissue en face processing and the final defect was repaired with a large rotation flap. Approximately one month after repair, the patient presented with new-onset diplopia and was found to have a complete left cranial nerve VI palsy suspicious for continued disease spread. MRI confirmed perineural spread along the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve through the superior orbital fissure into the cavernous sinus. She was subsequently treated with radiation therapy (66Gy in 33 fractions). The involvement of two distinct cranial nerves by perineural invasion is uncommon and has mostly been described involving branches of the trigeminal and facial nerves. This case highlights the rare presentation of perineural invasion involving both the trigeminal nerve and the abducens nerve. Anatomically, this clinical presentation can be explained by the retrograde perineural spread along the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve through the supraorbital fossa into the cavernous sinus where these two nerves are in close proximity.

Is orofacial granulomatosis a distinct clinical disorder?

Orofacial granulomatosis is a rare disorder that is heterogeneously defined in the published literature. Herein, we describe a patient with orofacial granulomatosis with clinical and histologic evidence, discuss differential diagnoses, and offer clinical pearls for diagnosing and assessing this disorder. Our case provides support that orofacial granulomatosis is a distinct disorder as opposed to a sequela of other systemic granulomatous diseases. This information will aid dermatologists in decision making and diagnosing the disorder.

Photo Vignette

A widespread blistering eruption: diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis

Diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis with bullous formation is a rare childhood disease. We report a 5-month-old male who presented with a 3-week history of cutaneous bullae and pruritus. On examination, he had erythema of the cheeks bilaterally and diffuse slightly hyperpigmented, indurated skin on his trunk and abdomen. There were tense vesicles, bullae, and erosions linearly arranged on his trunk and extremities. Both the laboratory and imaging workup were normal. Subsequently, a punch biopsy of a vesicle on the abdomen was obtained and findings confirmed a diagnosis of diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis. An EpiPen(r) was prescribed due to the slightly increased anaphylaxis risk compared to other forms of mastocytosis. There are many purported triggers of diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis and there is currently no known cure which makes management of this disease challenging. This case highlights a rare condition for which official treatment guidelines do not exist. A prompt dermatologic diagnosis is necessary to ensure proper workup and regulation is in place.

Painful subcutaneous nodules in an alcoholic: a case of pancreatic panniculitis

Pancreatic panniculitis is an uncommon manifestation of pancreatic disease, affecting approximately 2-3% of patients with acute or chronic pancreatitis [1]. Its accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment as skin manifestations usually precede systemic symptoms of pancreatitis. The diagnosis of pancreatic panniculitis requires identifying and confirming pancreatic disease in addition to the typical histopathological findings of lobular panniculitis without vasculitis. Herein, we present a patient with pancreatic panniculitis, underlying acute pancreatic failure, and kidney injury.