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Granuloma faciale

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Granuloma faciale
Sherry H Hsiung MD
Dermatology Online Journal 9(4): 39

From the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University


Granuloma faciale is characterized by indurated, red-brown papules and plaques that usually occur on the face. We present a 52-year-old man with typical clinical and histologic features of this condition. A review of treatment options is presented.

Clinical summary

History.—A 52-year-old man complained of a 5-year history of cheek and nose lesions. The patient presented to the dermatology service of the Department of Veterans Affairs New York Harborview Health Care System in May 1998, with a solitary lesion on his left cheek of one year's duration. The patient denied pruritus, tenderness, and discharge. He received intralesional triamcinolone (5 mg/ml) once and topical fluocinonide ointment without benefit. He was not taking any medications. The patient returned on December 2002, for an unrelated complaint. It was noted, however, that the condition persisted and progressed with new lesions on the left cheek and nose.

Physical examination.—A violaceous, indurated plaque was present on the left cheek. Several smaller papules of similar morphology were noted on the right cheek and nose.

Figure 1 Figure 2

Laboratory data.—None.

Histopathology.—There is a dense superficial perivascular mixed-inflammatory-cell infiltrate composed of eosinophils, neutrophils, lymphocytes, plasma cells, and macrophages that spares the overlying epidermis and the pilosebaceous units (Grenz zone). The infiltrate is present within the blood vessel walls, which are ectatic and show endothelial swelling. There is also leukocytoclasis.

Diagnosis.—Granuloma faciale.


Granuloma faciale (GF) is a rare cutaneous disorder, which affects middle-aged Caucasian men. The lesions appear as red-brown, well-demarcated plaques, which are most often located on the face, although there have been approximately a dozen case reports of extrafacial lesions [1].

Histopathologically, early plaques of GF show small vessel vasculitis with relatively scant leukocytoclasia and extravasated erythrocytes [2]. In more mature lesions, a mixed infiltrate of neutrophils, eosinophils, and plasma cells become more prominent with fibrosis. A Grenz zone, which spares the papillary dermis just below the epidermis, is present. Some dermatopathologists have proposed that these features argue that GF and erythema elevatum diutinum are the same disease process occurring at different locations on the body [3].

There are a variety of treatments for this condition. Destructive modalities have included surgical excision, skin grafts [4], and liquid nitrogen cryotherapy [5, 6]. Less damaging methods, such as intralesional glucocorticoids, dermabrasion [7], and dapsone [8] are nonscarring; however, success is variable. More recently ablation with long-pulsed tunable dye [9], argon, [10] and 585-nm pulsed-dye lasers [11] have been reported with promising results.


1. Roustan G, et al. Granuloma faciale with extrafacial lesions. Dermatology 198:79, 1999.

2. LeBoit PE. Granuloma faciale: A diagnosis deserving of dignity. Am J Dermatol 24: 440, 2002.

3. Ackerman AB, et al. Ackerman's Resolving Quandries in Dermatology, Pathology, and Dermatopathology. Second Volume. New York: Ardor Scribendi, 2001:430.

4. Phillips DK, Hymes SR. Recurrent facial plaques following full-thickness grafting: Granuloma faciale. Arch Dermatol 130:1433, 1994.

5. Zacarian SA. Cryosurgery effective for granuloma faciale. J Dermatol Surg Oncol 11:11, 1995.

6. Dowlati B, et al. Granuloma faciale: Successful treatment of nine cases with a combination of cryotherapy and intralesional corticosteroid injection. Int J Dermatol 36:548, 1997.

7. Bergfeld WF, et al. Granuloma faciale: Treatment by dermabrasion: report of a case. Cleve Clin Q 37:215, 1980.

8. van de Kerkhof PC. On the efficicacy of dapsone in granuloma faciale. Acta Derm Venerol (Stockh) 74: 61, 1994.

9. Chatrath V, Rohrer TE. Granuloma faciale successfully treated with long-pulsed tunable dye laser. Derm Surg 28: 527, 2002.

10. Apfelberg DB, et al. Granuloma faciale : Treatment with argon laser. Arch Dermatol 199: 573, 1983.

11. Ammirati CT, Hruza GJ. Treatment of granuloma faciale with the 585-nm pulsed dye laser. Arch Dermatol 135: 903, 1999.

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