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Generalized Lichen Nitidus Successfully Treated with Narrow-bandUVB Phototherapy: Two Cases Report
Lichen nitidus (LN) is an uncommon chronic inflammatory skin disease composed
of numerous, tiny, shiny, flesh-colored papules that are predominantly observed on
Seong-Hyun Kim, Ki-Bum Myung,You-Won Choi
the chest, abdomen, glans penis and upper extremities. The distribution of LN ismost often localized, but in some cases it can become generalized. Because LN
Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine,
tends to be asymptomatic and presents spontaneous resolution within several years,
it usually does not require treatment except in symptomatic, persistent and gener-alized cases. We describe a 28-yr-old man and a 7-yr-old boy with generalized LN
where both cases improved with narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) phototherapy
plus topical steroid ointment. Both patients noted improvement within the first three
treatments and showed almost complete resolution after 18 and 20 treatments, res-
pectively. NB-UVB phototherapy may be an effective alternative therapy for the treat-
Department of Dermatology, Ewha Womans University
ment of generalized LN, even for those patients in their childhood.
Mokdong Hospital, 911-1 Mok-dong, Yangcheon-gu,Seoul 158-710, Korea
Key Words : Skin Diseases; Lichenoid Eruptions; Lichen Nitidus; Narrow-band UVB; Phototherapy; Ultravio-
Tel : +82.2-2650-5159, Fax : +82.2-2652-6925
head-sized papules that involved the trunk, upper extremi-ties and palms including the fingers. The lesions first appeared
Lichen nitidus (LN) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that
on the abdomen and gradually spread over the chest and ext-
is characterized by numerous, 1-2 mm sized, flesh to pink-
remities. The physical examination showed multiple, discrete,
colored papules. Usually the lesions are asymptomatic but
1 to 2 mm sized, flesh-colored papules on the abdomen, trunk
pruritus can occur. LN preferentially involves the abdomen,
and extremities, especially on the flexural surfaces and palms
chest, penis and the flexural surfaces of the extremites. The
(Fig. 1A). No nail or mucosal involvement were found. The
tiny papules tend to be localized, although the eruption can
biopsy specimens from the abdomen and finger showed a
be generalized (1). Although LN tends to be asymptomatic
focal well-circumscribed infiltrate of lymphocytes and histi-
and usually resolves spontaneously in a year, the clinical course
ocytes closely attached to the epidermis. The overlying epi-
of the generalized form is unpredictable. Many therapeutic
dermis was flattened and the granular layer was absent. The
modalities including topical or systemic corticosteroid, astemi-
rete ridges on the margins of the granuloma were elongated
zole, psoralen ultraviolet A (PUVA) and dinitrochlorobenzene
to create the image of a ‘claw clutching a ball’ (Fig. 2). On
immunotherapy have been attempted for the purpose of treat-
the basis of the clinical and histopathologic findings, he was
ing generalized LN; however, there is no effective or tolerable
diagnosed with generalized lichen nitidus. A trial of NB-UVB
treatment enough to treat the generalized LN of children.
phototherapy twice a week was initiated at 0.25 J/cm2, along
We describe here two patients with generalized lichen niti-
with the application of topical methylprednisolone aceponate
dus whose lesions were rapidly improved with narrow-band
0.1% ointment. The skin lesions of abdomen flattened after
ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) irradiation plus topically applied
only 3 treatment sessions, and the majority of the lesions com-
pletely cleared after 20 sessions with a cumulative dose of 5.36J/cm2 (Fig. 1B). Not surprisingly, the truncal lesions clearedbefore the acral ones. After a further 12-month period with-
out treatment, there has been no recurrence at any site.
A 28-yr-old man had a 10-yr history of asymptomatic pin-
A 7-yr-old boy is herein presented with an asymptomatic
M.-O. Do, M.-J. Kim, S.-H. Kim, et al.
Fig. 1. (A) Numerous flesh-colored, flat, shiny papules are distributed on the abdomen. (B) After only 3 sessions of NB-UVB irradiation, thepapules show marked flattening.
limbs and the postauricular area (Fig. 3A). A skin biopsy fromthe elbow revealed a well-circumscribed lymphohistiocyticinfiltrate in the papillary dermis, which was surrounded bilat-erally by elongated rete ridges; all of which constituted thetypical configuration of lichen nitidus. Thus, he was diagnos-ed with generalized lichen nitidus. The patient also receivedNB-UVB phototherapy twice a week with the initial doseof 0.15 J/cm2. After 3 sessions of NB-UVB phototherapy,the papules on the anterior chest started to decrease in sizeand they were almost completely resolved after the eighteenthtreatment, with a cumulative dose of 3.05 J/cm2 (Fig. 3B).
The patient has been followed up on for 1 yr with no evidenceof lesion recurrence.
Since LN is usually asymptomatic and resolves without
sequelae, no treatment is necessarily required in most cases.
However, medical treatment is required when the lesions
Fig. 2. Biopsy of a papule from the abdomen shows the localized
are persistant, generalized, and when they are considered cos-
lymphohistiocytic infiltrate in an expanded dermal papilla and the
metically undesirable or accompanied by symptoms such as
downward extension of the rete ridges at the lateral margin of the
pruritus. Many therapeutic modalities including topical and
infiltrate, which produces a typical ‘claw clutching a ball’ configu-ration (H&E, ×100).
systemic corticosteroid, PUVA (2), ultraviolet A/ultraviolet B(UVA/UVB) with systemic corticosteroid (3), dinitrochlo-
flesh-colored glistening papular eruption that had been pre-
robenzene (DNCB) or diphenylcyclopropenone immunother-
sent on the trunk for 9 months. The lesions had gradually
apy (4), selective H1 antagonist (5), and even itraconazole (6)
progressed until they were almost generalized. He also suf-
and isoniazide (7) have been used to treat LN patients. Espe-
fered from atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis. A physical
cially, PUVA therapy and astemizole have been effective for
examination revealed numerous dome-shaped shiny papules
generalized LN, whereas acitretin demonstrated a reduction
predominantly on the trunk, the extensor surface of the upper
in the palmoplantar forms (8). However, the application of
Generalized Lichen Nitidus Treated with NB-UVB Phototherpay
Fig. 3. (A) Numerous discrete flesh-colored glistening papules presented on the abdomen. (B) After the 15th session of NB-UVB photother-apy, most of the papules had completely disappeared.
etretinate, actiretin, PUVA and DNCB seems to be contrain-
The effectiveness of systemic therapy for LN is difficult to
dicated for children. There are only a few reports about pho-
evaluate because of the propensity for the disease being resolv-
totherapy for LN. Randle and Sander (2) treated a 29-yr-old
ed spontaneously. However the generalized and persistent
woman with generalized LN with PUVA scheduled 3 times/
lesions observed in case 1 were relatively resolved after only
week. She was completely responsive to the therapy, with an
three sessions of NB-UVB irradiation. Thus, it is most prob-
initial response being seen at the 27th treatment and the
able that the NB-UVB phototherapy was responsible for their
lesions going into complete remission after the 46th treat-
ment with a total dose of 290 J/cm2. Chen et al. (3) described
We conclude that NB-UVB phototherapy is an effective
an 80-yr-old woman with generalized LN that was success-
alternative treatment for generalized LN, even for children
fully treated with UVA/UVB combined with low-dose sys-
to whom physicians are generally hesitant to prescribe sys-
temic prednisolone. Since NB-UVB (311 nm, TL-01) has
temic or potent topical steroid and PUVA.
fewer sideeffects and less carcinogenic potential than broad-band UVB or PUVA, it has recently been used for almost everytype of dermatosis which is known to be efficiently treated
with PUVA (9). As seen in the above cases, since NB-UVBprovides a lower cumulative dose than PUVA for disease remis-
1. Lapins NA, Willoughby C, Helwig EB. Lichen nitidus: A study of
sion, it seems to be safe and usable for children.
forty-three cases. Cutis 1978; 21: 634-7.
Although the exact mechanism of NB-UVB photothera-
2. Randle HW, Sander HM. Treatment of generalized lichen nitidus
py in LN is unknown, the functional impairment of cellular
with PUVA. Int J Dermatol 1986; 25: 330-1.
immunity is thought to play a central role. The pathophysi-
3. Chen W, Schramm M, Zouboulis CC. Generalized lichen nitidus. J
ology of LN suggests that an allergen may cause antigen-pre-
senting cell (e.g. the Langerhans cell) to activate a cell-medi-
4. Lee SD, Kim MY, Baek SC, Houh D, Byun DG. Two cases of lichen
ated response. It initiates the lymphocyte accumulation and
nitidus treated with diphenylcyclopropenone immunotherapy. Korean
forms the discrete inflammatory papules that contain large
numbers of Langerhans cells. The cutaneous immunologic
5. Ocampo J, Torne R. Generalized lichen nitidus -report of two cases
effects of NB-UVB therapy are to deplete the number of epi-
treated with astemizole. Int J Dermatol 1989; 28: 49-51.
dermal Langerhans cells, as measured by CD-1a expression,
6. Libow LF, Coots NV. Treatment of lichen planus and lichen nitidus
and to induce the production of anti-inflammatory factors
with itraconazole. Cutis 1998; 62: 247-8.
like interleukin-10, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone
7. Kubota Y, Kiryu H, Nakayama J. Generalized lichen nitidus success-
and prostaglandin E2, in addition to down-regulating the
fully treated with an antituberculous agent. Br J Dermatol 2002; 146:
expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (9).
M.-O. Do, M.-J. Kim, S.-H. Kim, et al.
8. Lucker GP, Koopman RJ, Steijlen PM, Valk PG. Treatment of pal-
9. El-Ghorr AA, Norval M. Biological effects of narrow-band (311nm
moplantar lichen nitidus with acitretin. Br J Dermatol 1994; 130:
TL01) UVB irradiation. a review. J Photochem Photobiol B 1997;
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