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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 198-200  

Atypical lichen myxedematosus: A case with remarkable response to low dose melphalan

Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Government Medical College, Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication11-May-2017

Correspondence Address:
Mini Gomathy
Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Government Medical College, Alappuzha, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_159_16

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A 41-year-old man was referred to our outpatient department with a diagnosis of urticaria with angioedema of 3 months duration. On examination, he had generalized coalescent waxy papules and diffuse periorbital swelling. Systemic examination was unremarkable except for limited finger flexion. Serum electrophoresis and thyroid function tests were normal. Histopathological examination showed normal epidermis and intradermal mucin deposition, which was diagnostic of lichen myxedematosus (LM). The patient showed prompt response to melphalan. Here, we report this case of atypical LM because the patient had generalized eruption with normal thyroid function along with the absence of monoclonal gammopathy.

Keywords: Atypical type, melphalan, lichen myxedematosus

How to cite this article:
Gomathy M, Sunny B, Anitha K, Sreekanth S, Rajeevan K, Das SC. Atypical lichen myxedematosus: A case with remarkable response to low dose melphalan. Indian Dermatol Online J 2017;8:198-200

How to cite this URL:
Gomathy M, Sunny B, Anitha K, Sreekanth S, Rajeevan K, Das SC. Atypical lichen myxedematosus: A case with remarkable response to low dose melphalan. Indian Dermatol Online J [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Dec 8];8:198-200. Available from: https://www.idoj.in/text.asp?2017/8/3/198/206116

   Introduction Top

Lichen myxedematosus (LM) or papular mucinosis (PM) is a rare cutaneous myxedematous condition characterized by the formation of numerous closely-set lichenoid monomorphous waxy papules and plaques causing extensive thickening and hardening of the skin secondary to mucin deposition and variable dermal fibrosis in the absence of thyroid dysfunction. The exact etiology of this rare disorder is still not known. In an updated classification, Rongioletti and Rebora described in detail about the generalized papular and sclerodermoid form or scleromyxedema (SM), the localized papular form which includes discrete papular, acral persistent papular mucinosis, self healing papular mucinosis (juvenile and adult variant), papular mucinosis of infancy and nodular LM, and a third atypical or intermediate form.[1] More than 80% cases of SM show an association with monoclonal gammopathy particularly of the immunoglobulin G lambda type.[2],[3] PM runs a chronic and nonlethal course. The course of the atypical form is unpredictable. No standard therapeutic regimen exists for any of the different clinical types of LM. Different therapeutic agents or therapies tried in different clinical types showed varying responses. In the present study, we report a case of an atypical LM with remarkable response to low dose melphalan for a short period.

   Case Report Top

A 41-year-old man was referred to our out patient department as a case of urticaria with periorbital angioedema of 3 months duration not responding to the usual lines of treatment. On examination, vitals were normal. Dermatological examination showed numerous closely-set monomorphous waxy papules and plaques having a juicy succulent appearance distributed bilaterally and symmetrically over the face, sides of neck, trunk, thigh, forearms, and hands. The papules had a linear arrangement [Figure 1]a and [Figure 1]b. Scalp was involved and mucous membranes were spared. Glabella showed exaggerated facial folds with horizontal and longitudinal furrowing [Figure 2]. Some of the lesions on the trunk and thighs showed central depression and elevated rim [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b similar to “doughnut sign” as described over proximal interphalangeal joints due to indurated skin.. Flexion of the fingers was limited. Other systemic examination was within normal limits. A clinical diagnosis of LM was made with differentials of urticaria with angioedema and sarcoidosis.
Figure 1: (a) Monomorphous papules with linear arrangement on the forehead; (b) monomorphous papules with linear arrangement on the trunk

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Figure 2: Glabella showing exaggerated facial folds with horizontal and longitudinal furrows and upper eyelid edema

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Figure 3: (a) Coalescent papules on the trunk showing the “doughnut sign;” (b) coalescent papules on the thigh showing the “doughnut sign”

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The hemogram, urine routine examination, serum biochemistry, serum electrophoresis, and thyroid function tests were normal. Urine Bence–Jones protein was negative. ANA (Anti-nuclear antibody), RA (Rheumatoid factor), and ELISA (Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) for HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) were negative. Chest X-ray, skeletal radiological survey, and ultrasonogram of the abdomen were normal. Histopathological examination of a representative lesion from the thigh stained with hematoxylin and eosin showed normal epidermis and separation of collagen fibres in the upper and mid reticular dermis [Figure 4]a and [Figure 4]b. Alcian blue staining demonstrated intradermal mucin deposition [Figure 5]. The diagnosis of LM was confirmed. There were no marked increase in dermal fibroblasts. However, a significant number of stellate fibroblasts were present. Because he had generalized eruption with absence of sclerodactyly and leonine facies (usually seen in scleromyxedema, but not in LM), normal thyroid function, absence of monoclonal gammopathy, and typical histological findings, a final diagnosis of atypical LM was made.
Figure 4: (a) Dermis showing separation of the collagen fibres, hematoxylin and eosin (H and E, ×40); (b) dermis showing separation of the collagen fibres, (H and E, ×400)

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Figure 5: Intradermal mucin deposition and separation of collagen fibres, Alcian blue ×400

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The patient did not respond to oral antihistamines and topical steroids. Because the lesions were progressing, we started him on melphalan tablet at a dose of 2 mg per day. There was remarkable improvement with clearing of the lesions within 2 weeks [Figure 6]a and [Figure 6]b. There was no recurrence in the 1 year follow-up period, after which the case was lost to follow up.
Figure 6: (a) Clearing of the lesions on the face, 2 weeks after melphalan treatment; (b) clearing of the lesions the on the trunk, 2 weeks after melphalan treatment

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   Discussion Top

First authentic classification of LM was conducted by Montgomery and Underwood in 1953.[4] Rongioletti and Rebora had updated the diagnostic criteria in 2001 and classified LM into two clinicopathologic subsets and a third group of atypical or intermediate forms based on the clinicopathological findings and presence or absence of monoclonal gammopathy in the absence of thyroid dysfunction.[1] The subsets include a generalized papular and sclerodermoid form or SM and the localized papular form (PM).[1] The atypical type of LM include SM without monoclonal gammopathy, localized LM with monoclonal gammopathy and/or systemic symptoms other than HIV infection, localized LM with mixed features of different subtypes, and other nonspecified cases. Our case had generalized papular eruption, absence of monoclonal gammopathy, typical histological findings, and normal thyroid function, justifying the final diagnosis of atypical LM.

Multiple inciting stimuli have been suggested as the cause for the over production of mucin by the fibroblasts. The precise mechanism is still unknown. Serum from LM patients even after separation of the paraprotein, stimulated DNA synthesis and cell proliferation in cultured fibroblasts, suggesting the role of certain circulating factor or factors other than paraprotein.[5] Indirect mechanisms of development appear to include circulating cytokines, inflammatory mediators, and fibroblast precursor cell lineages that migrate from the blood, take up residence in the dermis as well as in other tissues and synthesis mucin.

Approximately 10% cases of the SM form associated with IgG paraprotein show progression to multiple myeloma.[6] Cardiovascular system abnormality may occur in another 10%. Other systemic features include neurologic involvement, carpel tunnel syndrome, the dermatoneuro syndrome, seronegative polyarthritis, Raynaud's phenomenon, esophageal dysmotility, dyspnoea, restrictive or obstructive pulmonary defects, pneumonia, hematologic malignancies, scleroderma-like renal disease, corneal opacities, thickened eyebrow or eyelid skin, lagophthalmos, ectropion, and rarely laryngeal involvement.[7],[8] Autopsy studies have shown mucin deposition in multiple organs suggesting the systemic nature of the disease.[9]

The prognosis of SM is poor even after treatment with cyclophosphamide and melphalan. Other treatment options include intravenous immunoglobulin, glucocorticoids, other immunosuppressants, thalidomide, oral isotretinoin, PUVA, electron beam radiation, plasmapheresis combined with pulsed corticosteroids, extracorporeal photopheresis, and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.[10] The prognosis and course of atypical LM is unpredictable because of the limited data from the low number of reported cases.

In the updated classification, Rongioletti and Rebora had suggested that whenever cases of LM are dealt with, an indication of the subset should always be given. The subtype involved should be then added in cases of the localized forms. Moreover, PM and LM may be used synonymously, however, the term SM should be preferred for the generalized sclerodermoid form.

Our case was of the atypical type with widespread cutaneous eruption, absence of monoclonal gammopathy, and showed remarkable response to low dose melphalan for a short period. Other features such as accentuation of facial lesions and bilateral periorbital angioedema had indeed misled the physician. An additional finding in our case was the “doughnut sign”at unusual sites (trunk and thigh). Because there are many reports of melphalan-induced hematological malignancies, our case warrants further follow up even though he received melphalan only for a short period.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.


Dr. Pradeep Nair S MD, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Govt Medical college, Trivandrum.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Rongioletti F, Rebora A. Updated classification of papularmucinosis, lichen myxedematosus and scleromyxedema. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:273-81.  Back to cited text no. 1
Dinneen AM, Dicken CH. Scleromyxedema. J Am Acad Dermatol 1995;33:37-43.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rongioletti F, Merlo G, Cinotti E, Fausti V, Cozzani E, Cribier B, et al. Scleromyxedema: Amulticenter study of characteristics, co-morbidities, course and therapy in 30 patients. J Am Acad Dermatol 2013;69:66-72.  Back to cited text no. 3
Montgomery H, Underwood LJ. Lichen myxedematosus (differentiation from cutaneous myxedemas or mucoid states). J Invest Dermatol 1953;20:213-36.  Back to cited text no. 4
Harper RA, Rispler J. Lichen myxedematosus serum stimulates human skin fibroblast proliferation. Science 1978;199:545-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
Cokonis-Georgakis CD, Falasca G, Georgakis A, Heymann WR. Scleromyxedema. Clin Dermatol 2006;24:493-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Truhan AP, Roenigk HH. Lichen myxedematosus: An unusual case with rapid progression and internal involvement. Int J Dermatol 1987;26:91-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
Davis ML, Bartley GB, Gibson LE, Maguire LJ. Ophthalmic findings in scleromyxedema. Ophthalmology 1994;101:252-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
Loggini B, Pingitore R, Avvenente A, Giuliano G, Barachini P. Lichen myxedematosus with systemic involvement: Clinical and autopsy findings. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;45:606-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Gholam P, Hartmann M, Enk A. Arndt-Gottron scleromyxedema: Successful therapy with intravenous immunoglobulins. Br J Dermatol 2007;157:1058-60.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]


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