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Chronic Blistering Disease Part I. Rick Lin, DO MPH SECOND year resident. Pemphigus Vulgaris. Easily rupture bullae Bulla is clear at first but may become hemorrhagic or even seropurulent then form erosion

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Chronic blistering disease part i l.jpg

Chronic Blistering Disease Part I

Rick Lin, DO MPH

SECOND year resident


Pemphigus vulgaris l.jpg
Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Easily rupture bullae

  • Bulla is clear at first but may become hemorrhagic or even seropurulent then form erosion

  • Appear first in the mouth and them commonly in the groin, scalp, face, neck, axillae, or genitals

  • Nikolsky sign is present


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Nikolsky sign vs. Asboe-Hansen

  • Nikolsky sign: absence of cohesion in the epidermis, upper layers are easily made to slip laterally by slight pression or rubbing.

  • Asboe-Hansen sign: direct pression on intact bulla leading to bulla-spread phenomenon


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Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Mouth lesion first appear in 60% of the case

  • Mucosa with painful erosion

  • Mouth odor is offensive and penetratingly unpleasant

  • Esophagus may be involved and sloughing of entire lining to form a cast (esophagitis dissecans superficialis)


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Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Epidemiology: M=F, usually 5th and 6th decades, rare in young person

  • Etiology: autoimmune blistering disease mediated by intercellular antibodies

  • IgG throughout epidermis, C3 reliably found

  • Desmoglein-3 antibody detected


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Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Drugs which induces pemphigus

    • Penicillamine for treatment of RA, most often for foliaceous type

    • Captopril, penicillin, thiopronine, interleukin-2, rifampin


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The hallmark of pemphigus is the finding of IgG autoantibodies directed against the cell surface of keratinocytes. A Pemphigusvulgaris sera containing anti-desmoglein 3 IgG alone stain the cell surfaces in the lower epidermis. B Pemphigusvulgaris sera containing both anti-desmoglein 3 IgG and anti-desmoglein 1 IgG stain the cell surfaces throughout the epidermis. C Pemphigus foliaceus sera, which contain only anti-desmoglein 1 IgG, stain the cell surfaces throughout the epidermis, but more intensely in the superficial layers.


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Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Treatment:

    • Topical: Silvadene, Maalox for mouth

    • Systemic: Prednisone 60mg to 100mg daily

    • Systemic: Azathioprine (Imuran), cyclophasphamide (Cytoxin), Mexotrexate maybe used in combination

    • Repeat pemphigus antibody titer in 4-8 weeks after treatment. If not improving, increase prednisone up to 150mg/day

    • Solu-medrol IV pulse therapy at 1g/day over 2-3 hour period, repeat for 5 days if patient is not responding orally.


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Pemphigus Vulgaris

  • Use of an immunosuppresant is helpful in diminishing the need for corticosteroids.

  • Imuran is one of the best

  • Risk of death in pemphigus from side effect of oral prednisone is greater than the risk of death from the disease itself


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Pemphigus Vegetans

  • A variant of pemphigus vulgaris

  • Characterized by flaccid bullae that become erosions and form fungoid vegetation or papillomatous proliferations, especially in body folds

  • Histology finding are identicla with those of pemphigus vulgaris, but there is an increased papillary proliferations and marked epidermal hyperplasia.


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Pemphigus Foliaceus

  • Mild, chronic variety of pemphigus characterized by flaccid bullae and generalized or localized exfoliation.

  • Nikolsky sign present. Oral lesions rarely seen.

  • Desmoglein-1 antibody.

  • Patient with Pemphigus Foliaceus are not severely ill.


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Fogo Selvagem

  • AKA Brazilian Pemphigus

  • Endemic form of pemphigus foliaceus found in tropical regions

  • Histologically and immunohistologically identical to pemphigus foliaceus


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Pemphigus Erythematosus

  • Senear-Usher Syndrome

  • Resemble lupus erythematosus

  • Positive for lupus band in 80% of patients

  • Histologically resemble Pemphigus foliaceus

  • Dosage of prednisone required for control usually is much lower than that of Pemphigus Foliaceus


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Paraneoplastic Pemphigus

  • Mucosal lesions may present as lichenoid with Stevens-Johnson-like presentation

  • Skin lesions may appear as erythematous macules, lichenoid lesions, erythema multiforme-like lesion, flaccid bullae, and erosion.

  • Immunohistopathologic reveals IgG and C3.


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The characteristic clinical feature is severe intractable stomatitis that extends onto the vermilion lip.


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Intraepidermal Neutrophilic IgA Dermatosis stomatitis that extends onto the vermilion lip.

  • Generalized flaccid bullae, which may rapidly ruptured and crusted

  • Histological finding shows neutrophilic exocytosis and in some areas neutrophils arranged in a linear fashion at the dermal-epidermal junction.

  • Direct IF showed an intrercellular deposition of IgA with in epidermis with minimal staining of basal layer.


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Intraepidermal Neutrophilic IgA Dermatosis stomatitis that extends onto the vermilion lip.

  • Second subset of patients develop disease that more closely simulates subcorneal pustular dermatosis

  • Present much more like Sneddon-Wilkinson patient with serpiginous and annular pustules

  • Treatment with Dapsone is often effective at as low as 25mg per day.


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Bullous Pemphigoid stomatitis that extends onto the vermilion lip.

  • Large bullae

  • When rupture, shows large denuded area and do not materially increase in size.

  • Denuded areas show a tendency to heal spontaneously

  • Begins at a localized site, frequently the shin

  • Young girls maybe initially seen with localized vulvar erosion and ulcers that resemble signs of child abuse.


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Bullous Pemphigoid stomatitis that extends onto the vermilion lip.

  • Occurs most frequently in the elderly.

  • Age of average onset is 65 to 75 years

  • Etiology: circulating basement membrane zone antibodies of the IgG class present 70%.

  • Site of IgG binding has been localized to the lamina lucida, with accentuation near hemidesmosome

  • Bullous pemphigoid antigen 1 (BPAg1) and 2 (BPAg2) identified in 90% of patients


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A Direct immunofluorescence microscopy studies of perilesional skin demonstrating linear continuous deposits of IgG along the epidermal basement membrane zone (arrow). The same pattern of labeling is observed in cicatricial pemphigoid and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita. B Indirect immunofluorescence microscopy study utilizing salt-split normal human skin as a substrate. Patient's IgG autoantibodies are bound to the epidermal side (roof) of the split (arrow). The level of the artificial separation is indicated by asterisk. Cell nuclei are stained blue. The same pattern of labeling is observed in a subset of patients with cicatricial pemphigoid.


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Treatment perilesional skin demonstrating linear continuous deposits of IgG along the epidermal basement membrane zone (arrow). The same pattern of labeling is observed in cicatricial

  • Same treatment for pemphigus, with the expectation that disease will respond readily with lower dose of corticosteroid.

  • In severe case, pulse therapy with methylprednisolone giving 15mg/kg in 16 ml bacteriostatic water over period of 30 to 60 minutes daily for 3 doses.

  • Imuran is commonly used in resistant cases


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Treatment perilesional skin demonstrating linear continuous deposits of IgG along the epidermal basement membrane zone (arrow). The same pattern of labeling is observed in cicatricial

  • Additional treatment options include mexotrexate and mycophenolate mofetil.

  • Nicotinamide 500mg three times daily combined with tetracycline 500mg four times daily works 10 out of 14 patients.


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