Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

Dermatology Online Journal bannerUC Davis

Pyoderma gangrenosum associated with levamisole-adulterated cocaine in a c-ANCA positive patient


Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is an inflammatory, ulcerative condition that is characterized by painful ulcers that commonly present on the lower extremities. Up to half of PG cases are associated with underlying systemic disease, including inflammatory bowel disease, various autoimmune conditions, and malignancy. Another well-known association is the manifestation of PG with recreational cocaine use, especially cocaine contaminated with the adulterant agent levamisole. Once utilized for its immunomodulatory capabilities, levamisole was withdrawn from the market in 2002. It has since been repurposed to potentiate the amphetamine-like effects and duration of cocaine and has reduced preparation cost. We present a 52-year-old woman with chronic maxillary sinusitis and cocaine use disorder presenting with a two-week history of painful ulcers on bilateral lower extremities, each with a purulent base and undermined, violaceous borders. Urine toxicology was positive for cocaine and serologic studies were positive for cytoplasmic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (c-ANCA) and lupus anticoagulant. Underlying conditions, especially that of granulomatosis with polyangiitis, were considered and ultimately ruled out. The patient's lesions exhibited a marked response with a short course of oral corticosteroids, typical of PG associated with levamisole. This case highlights the crucial role that drug abstinence plays in the prevention of recurrence.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View