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  Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 296-298  

Perforating granuloma annulare in a young male following application of the tattoo

1 Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Dermatology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication8-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
Sudheer Arava
Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5178.160286

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How to cite this article:
Madan NK, Vallonthaiel AG, Arava S, Ali MF, Goyal M, Singh MK. Perforating granuloma annulare in a young male following application of the tattoo. Indian Dermatol Online J 2015;6:296-8

How to cite this URL:
Madan NK, Vallonthaiel AG, Arava S, Ali MF, Goyal M, Singh MK. Perforating granuloma annulare in a young male following application of the tattoo. Indian Dermatol Online J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jan 28];6:296-8. Available from: https://www.idoj.in/text.asp?2015/6/4/296/160286


Perforating granuloma annulare (PGA) is a very rare subtype of granuloma annulare (GA), reported on the extremities of children and young adults. [1],[2],[3] This variant has a chronic course, and isolated cases have been reported in association with diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS and herpes zoster infection. [3],[4],[5] It is characterized by a well-demarcated, annular lesion consisting of papules of 1-5 mm (most are umbilicated), with perforation in their centres. Pustular lesions and scars may be found. Lesions are usually located on the extremities but may also appear in other regions of the body. [6]

A granulomatous reaction pattern resembling PGA within the confines of a tattoo, is a very rare finding, and only two such cases have been reported in English literature. [7],[8]

A 24-year-old male developed an asymptomatic annular erythematous plaque on dorsum of his right hand 2-3 months after tattoo application. There were no systemic complaints. On closer examination, tiny papular lesions were seen all over the site of tattoo application, many of them having central plugs. There was a gradual increase in induration and thickness of the plaque, which covered almost all of the tattoo mark [Figure 1]. The patient received three sittings of intralesional triamcinolone (10 mg/ml) and topical steroids over a period of 1 year. With this treatment, there was 20-30% decrease in thickness of the lesion. A clinical diagnosis of PGA was suspected.
Figure 1: Erythematous plaque confined to the area of tattoo on dorsum of right hand, containing numerous papules, some with central plugs

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Biopsy taken from the lesion revealed a granulomatous reaction in the dermis consisting of palisading histiocytes around an aggregate of necrobiotic collagen. Surrounding dermis showed perivascular chronic inflammatory cell infiltrate comprising of lymphocytes and few plasma cells. Multiple step cuts revealed a defect in the epidermis through which the degenerated collagen was seen coming out [Figure 2]. The collagen fibers were seen oriented vertically in the dermis on Masson's trichrome stain. Special histochemical stains did not reveal any organism. Based on the clinical presentation and histopathological findings, a diagnosis of PGA was made.
Figure 2: Microphotograph showing a defect in the epidermis through which degenerated collagen is protruding out. Dermis shows palisaded granulomas surrounding the necrobiotic collagen aggregate (H and E, ×400)

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Cutaneous reactions to tattoo dyes cmay be classified into three categories: Inoculative/infective, coincidental lesions, including tumors, and allergic/lichenoid/granulomatous reactions. [7]

Most of the cutaneous hypersensitivity reactions to exogenous tattoo pigments can be classified as lichenoid or granulomatous. [9] An extensive literature search revealed only two prior cases of a PGA - like reaction, which were confined to the area of the tattoo. [7],[8]

Although PGA forms a subtype of GA, the age distribution and the localization of lesions clearly differ. Patients with GA present with a single lesion in more than 50% of cases, while this presentation accounts for only 9% of patients with PGA. [2],[10] The etiology of this type of cutaneous response is unknown, but is most likely due to a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, to either the pigment or its carrier solution.

Histologically, epithelial atrophy and perforation could be explained by the expansive growth of the necrobiotic granuloma that is located superficially in the dermis with the transepithelial elimination of the degenerated dermal collagen. [1] Clinical differential diagnoses, include papulonecrotic tuberculid, sarcoidosis, molluscum contagiosum or perforating collagenosis. [2] Reactive perforating dermatoses, mainly reactive perforating collagenosis are the closest differential diagnosis on histopathology. The lesions can be treated with topical or intralesional corticosteroids, cryotherapy, tacrolimus or imiquimod cream. [11],[12] However, it has been reported that the treatment for this entity is disappointing and that no treatment at all is as useful as any treatment. [2]

The diagnosis in this case was suspected on clinical grounds based on the history of tattoo application and the presence of a typical annular lesion with multiple plugs. Histologic examination confirmed the diagnosis and emphasized the importance of clinico-pathologic correlation. It is also emphasized that multiple sections of a biopsy may need to be taken in order to reveal the characteristic, but focal epidermal communication.

   References Top

Ko CJ, Glusac EJ, Shapiro PE. Noninfectious granulomas. In: Elder DE, editor. Lever's Histopathology of the Skin. South Asian Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2009. p. 361.  Back to cited text no. 1
Penas PF, Jones-Caballero M, Fraga J, Sánchez-Pérez J, García-Díez A. Perforating granuloma annulare. Int J Dermatol 1997;36:340-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Owens DW, Freeman RG. Perforating granuloma annulare. Arch Dermatol 1971;103:64-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Huerter CJ, Bass J, Bergfeld WF, Tubbs RR. Perforating granuloma annulare in a patient with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Immunohistologic evaluation of the cellular infiltrate. Arch Dermatol 1987;123:1217-20.  Back to cited text no. 4
Krahl D, Hartschuh W, Tilgen W. Granuloma annulare perforans in herpes zoster scars. J Am Acad Dermatol 1993;29:859-62.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dornelles SI, Poziomczyk CS, Boff A, Köche B, Dornelles Mde A, Richter GK. Generalized perforating granuloma annulare. An Bras Dermatol 2011;86:327-31.  Back to cited text no. 6
Sweeney SA, Hicks LD, Ranallo N, Snyder N 4 th , Soldano AC. Perforating granulomatous dermatitis reaction to exogenous tattoo pigment: A case report and review of the literature. Am J Dermatopathol 2013;35:754-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Gradwell E, Evans S. Perforating granuloma annulare complicating tattoos. Br J Dermatol 1998;138:360-1.  Back to cited text no. 8
Jacob CI. Tattoo-associated dermatoses: A case report and review of the literature. Dermatol Surg 2002;28:962-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Dabski K, Winkelmann RK. Generalized granuloma annulare: Clinical and laboratory findings in 100 patients. J Am Acad Dermatol 1989;20:39-47.  Back to cited text no. 10
Harth W, Linse R. Topical tacrolimus in granuloma annulare and necrobiosis lipoidica. Br J Dermatol 2004;150:792-4.  Back to cited text no. 11
Badavanis G, Monastirli A, Pasmatzi E, Tsambaos D. Successful treatment of granuloma annulare with imiquimod cream 5%: A report of four cases. Acta Derm Venereol 2005;85:547-8.  Back to cited text no. 12


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