Sterile neutrophilic folliculitis with perifollicular vasculopathy: a distinctive cutaneous reaction pattern reflecting systemic disease.
Magro CM. Crowson AN.
Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
The authors prospectively encountered skin biopsies from 20 patients which demonstrated a neutrophilic or suppurative and granulomatous folliculitis accompanied by a folliculocentric neutrophilic vascular reaction of Sweet's-like or leukocytoclastic vasculitis subtypes. While in each case the histomorphology raised diagnostic consideration of bacterial folliculitis, patients frequently expressed systemic complaints such as arthritis, fever, and malaise, and special stains for micro-organisms were negative. Among the clinical presentations were folliculitis, vasculitis, acneiform eruptions, vesiculopustular lesions, and erythema nodosum-like lesions, with the legs, arms, and upper back being the most commonly involved sites. Nineteen patients were found to have specific underlying systemic diseases, namely, inflammatory bowel disease, Reiter's disease, Behcet's disease, hepatitis B, connective tissue disease including mixed connective tissue disease and rheumatoid arthritis, scrofuloderma, and hematologic dyscrasias. The other patient had antecedent bacterial sinusitis in the setting of atopy. The folliculocentric nature of these lesions may reflect preferential processing of antigens through the hair follicle and/or homology between bacterial and follicular heat shock proteins in the susceptible host, namely, one who responds excessively to exogenous antigenic triggers. Folliculitis with folliculocentric vasculopathy may be a clue to underlying systemic disease and/or an extracutaneous infection. Certain light microscopic features in concert with the clinical presentation may distinguish such cases from conventional infectious folliculitis.