Lichenoid histopathologic changes in patients with clinical diagnoses of exfoliative dermatitis

J. W. Patterson, A. D. Berry, B. S. Darwin, A. Gottlieb, M. G. Wilkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Among 30 patients who received a clinical diagnosis of exfoliative dermatitis and were biopsied between 1982 and 1990, nine showed microscopic features of lichenoid dermatitis. Clinical information was available in eight of these cases. Possible etiologic factors included lymphoma, herpes simplex infection, connective tissue disease, and (in five cases) reactions to drugs. In each instance, microscopic features included a superficial perivascular lymphocytic infiltrate involving the dermal-epidermal interface, vacuolar alteration of the basilar layer, and individually necrotic keratinocytes at all levels of the epidermis. Such microscopic changes are not usually described in connection with exfoliative dermatitis, with the possible exception of those cases related to lichen planus or lupus erythematosus. Disseminated lichenoid drug eruption is one possible interpretation of the drug-induced cases. Erythema multiforme is another condition that has similar microscopic features and has been associated with drugs (many of which also cause exfoliative dermatitis), infectious agents, neoplasms, and connective tissue diseases. Lichenoid dermatitis can become generalized and clinically mimic an exfoliative dermatitis. Many, but not all, of these eruptions may be triggered by drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Dermatopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Exfoliative dermatitis
  • Lichenoid dermatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Dermatology


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