Pigmented Purpuric Dermatosis

Pigmented Purpuric Dermatosis

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The pigmented purpuric dermatoses are a group of chronic diseases of mostly unknown etiology that have a very distinctive clinical appearance. They are characterized by extravasation of erythrocytes in the skin with marked hemosiderin deposition.

A number of clinical patterns of pigmented purpuric dermatoses or capillaritis are recognized that may represent different presentations of the same disorder; however, this generally does not influence the treatment or the prognosis. They all show a similar histologic appearance. The term pigmented purpuric dermatoses includes Schamberg disease (ie, progressive pigmentary dermatosis), purpura annularis telangiectodes (Majocchi disease), [1] lichen aureus, itching purpura, eczematidlike purpura of Doucas and Kapetanakis, and the pigmented purpuric lichenoid dermatosis of Gougerot and Blum. Many consider itching purpura and eczematidlike purpura to be variants of Schamberg disease.

The etiology is unknown. Several cofactors have been reported that appear to influence disease presentation, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, venous stasis, strenuous exercise, gravitational dependency, capillary fragility, focal infections, and chemical ingestion. [2] Histologically, a perivascular T-cell lymphocytic infiltrate is centered on the superficial small blood vessels of the skin, which show signs of endothelial cell swelling and narrowing of the lumen. Extravasation of red blood cells with marked hemosiderin deposition in macrophages is also found, and a rare granulomatous variant of chronic pigmented dermatosis has been reported. [3]

United States

Pigmented purpuric dermatoses are common.


During a 10-month period, the author’s United Kingdom hospital-based dermatology practice, which serves a population of 300,000 persons, identified only 10 such cases. Five cases were diagnosed as having lichen aureus, and the remainder had more extensive capillaritis.

Persons of any race can be affected by pigmented purpuric dermatoses.

Pigmented purpuric dermatoses usually occur more frequently in men than in women. However, purpura annularis telangiectodes of Majocchi is seen more frequently in women.

Schamberg disease may occur in persons of any age.

Itching purpura and the dermatosis of Gougerot and Blum mainly affect middle-aged men.

Lichen aureus and Majocchi disease are predominantly diseases of children or young adults.

Many lesions persist or extend with time. Most eventually resolve spontaneously. Typically, the condition is asymptomatic, but pruritus may sometimes be a prominent feature in some cases, especially in patients with itching purpura or eczematidlike purpura of Doucas and Kapetanakis. These diseases have no systemic findings.

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Darius Mehregan, MD Associate Professor, Hermann Pinkus Chairman of Dermatology, Department of Dermatology, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology, University of Toledo College of Medicine; Dermatopathologist, Pinkus Dermatopathology Laboratory; Consulting Staff, Department of Dermatology, J Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Darius Mehregan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, American Society of Dermatopathology, International Society of Dermatology, International Society of Dermatopathology, Phi Beta Kappa, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jennifer Michelle Heyl, MD Resident Physician, Department of Dermatology, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rahil M Dharia Wayne State University School of Medicine

Rahil M Dharia is a member of the following medical societies: American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association/Foundation, Association of Students for Hinduism Awareness, Michigan Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Lester F Libow, MD Dermatopathologist, South Texas Dermatopathology Laboratory

Lester F Libow, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jean-Hilaire Saurat, MD Chair, Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Jean-Hilaire Saurat, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous authors, John D Wilkinson, MD, MBBS, MRCS, FRCP, and Cedric C Banfield, BSc, MSc, MBBS, MRCP(UK), to the development and writing of this article.

Pigmented Purpuric Dermatosis

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