Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The common clinical presentations of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and molluscum contagiosum (MC) are well known to dermatologists. However, folliculitis due to these viruses is an infrequently reported entity and might be considered a sign of immunosuppression [such as infection with human immunodeficiency virus, (HIV)], especially in cases of folliculitis due to MC. The purpose of this study was to describe the clinical and histopathological characteristics of viral folliculitis due to HSV and MC. We retrospectively collected all our cases with histologically proven folliculitis due to HSV and MC between 1994 and 1999. A total of seven patients aged 7–54 years was identified. Prior to establishment of the diagnosis of folliculitis due to HSV and MC, they were treated with topical antibiotics or topical steroids, without improvement. Tentative diagnoses were bacterial folliculitis, syringoma, perifollicular fibrosis, contact dermatitis or pseudolymphoma. Biopsy of the lesions revealed multiple molluscum bodies in the follicular epithelium with sparing of the epidermis in four patients, and ballooning degeneration and intranuclear viral inclusions in the follicular epithelium in the other three. Three patients had evidence of underlying immune suppression, such as pregnancy, chronic viral hepatitis B and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. One patient had suffered from epilepsy for 4 years. Testing for HIV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was negative in the four patients in whom this was performed, and T-cell subsets were normal in the three patients in whom these were quantified. In cases of molluscum folliculitis treated with simple curettage, the lesions cleared without scarring or recurrence. In cases of herpetic folliculitis, the lesions improved with antihistamines or aciclovir. MC or HSV should be considered in cases that present with folliculitis-like dermatoses but which are refractory to anti-infective and anti-inflammatory treatment.
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