Indian Dermatology Online Journal

: 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 138--139

Dermatitis neglecta-to be remembered, not neglected!

M Saritha, K Karthikeyan 
 Department of Dermatology, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
K Karthikeyan
Department of Dermatology, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Puduchery - 605 107

How to cite this article:
Saritha M, Karthikeyan K. Dermatitis neglecta-to be remembered, not neglected!.Indian Dermatol Online J 2015;6:138-139

How to cite this URL:
Saritha M, Karthikeyan K. Dermatitis neglecta-to be remembered, not neglected!. Indian Dermatol Online J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jan 23 ];6:138-139
Available from:

Full Text

A 55-year-old female patient presented with an asymptomatic, hyperpigmented, rough plaque over her right cheek of 2 months duration. She had no other complaints. She had undergone surgery for carcinoma of the lip 2 months back followed by flap transfer. She developed this lesion insidiously a few weeks after surgery. On examination, the patient had a single, hyperpigmented, well-defined verrucous plaque having a "stuck-on" appearance, of size 5 cm × 6 cm on the right cheek over a small surgical scar measuring 4 cm [Figure 1]. We considered differential diagnoses of seborrheic keratoses, cutaneous metastases, terra firma forme dermatoses (TFFD) and dermatitis neglecta (DN). On wiping the lesion with swab soaked in ethanol, the lesion was completely removed and underlying normal skin was revealed [Figure 2].{Figure 1}{Figure 2}

The term "DN" was first coined by Poskitt et al. in 1995. [1] It is characterized by hyperpigmented, waxy, verrucous plaques secondary to poor skin hygiene, which may be due to psychiatric illness, neurological deficit, surgical scar, hyperesthesia, periorbital eczema or even a benign nevus. [2] It is said to occur due to incomplete exfoliation and consequent accumulation of sebum, sweat, corneocytes and keratin material. TFFD or "Duncan's dirty dermatoses" is another similar condition; however certain differences have been noted in literature [Table 1]. [3],[4],[5] Other differentials include some "dirt-like" lesions such as atopic "dirty neck," acanthosis nigricans, confluent and reticulate papillomatosis and hyperkeratotic head and neck malassezia dermatosis. [3],[5],[6] It can mimic certain conditions like psoriasis. [7] Dermatitis artefacta is another differential diagnosis to be considered. It is usually seen in people with underlying personality disorder and is an act of commission; in contrast, DN is an act of omission. [1],[3]{Table 1}

Our patient had a pigmented plaque on her face closely resembling seborrheic keratosis. The short duration and history of surgery made us suspect DN, causing immediate relief and surprise in the patient and her oncologist. Both DN and TFFD, if correctly diagnosed, are highly gratifying to the treating physician as they are instantly removable and cured. Early and correct diagnosis can prevent unnecessary and expensive investigations.


1Poskitt L, Wayte J, Wojnarowska F, Wilkinson JD. 'Dermatitis neglecta': Unwashed dermatosis. Br J Dermatol 1995;132:827-9.
2Richter LL, Miller RM, Hillman JD, Chiu MW. Bilateral thick crusts on the legs. Int J Dermatol 2013;52:133-5.
3Berk DR. Terra firma-forme dermatosis: A retrospective review of 31 patients. Pediatr Dermatol 2012;29:297-300.
4Berk DR, Bruckner AL. Terra firma-forme dermatosis in a 4-month-old girl. Pediatr Dermatol 2011;28:79-81.
5O'Brien TJ, Hall AP. Terra firma-forme dermatosis. Australas J Dermatol 1997;38:163-4.
6Boralevi F, Marco-Bonnet J, Lepreux S, Buzenet C, Couprie B, Taïeb A. Hyperkeratotic head and neck Malassezia dermatosis. Dermatology 2006;212:36-40.
7Park JM, Roh MR, Kwon JE, Lee KY, Yoon TY, Lee MG, et al. A case of generalized dermatitis neglecta mimicking psoriasis vulgaris. Arch Dermatol 2010;146:1050-1.