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Nodular secondary syphilis in a woman


Glatz, M; Achermann, Y; Kerl, K; Bosshard, P P; Cozzio, A (2013). Nodular secondary syphilis in a woman. BMJ Case Reports, 2013:1-5.

Abstract

We report the case of a 21-year-old woman with symmetrically distributed, ulcerated nodules and plaques on the face, neck and arms. Initial differential diagnoses included pyoderma or sarcoidosis based on the clinical presentation and histopathology with non-caseating granulomas. After inefficient treatment with topical and systemic fusidic acid and steroids, we diagnosed nodular secondary syphilis owing to positive serology and immunohistochemical staining of Treponema pallidum in lesional skin. After treatment with benzathine penicillin, skin lesions improved and antibody titres declined significantly within 3 months. Nodular skin lesions in secondary syphilis are rare with 15 reported cases within the last 20 years. Furthermore, the granulomatous histology is often misleading. Our patient's case suggests that the physicians should be aware of syphilis as a possible differential diagnosis also in patients outside a high-risk population for sexually transmitted diseases and with an unusual clinical presentation.

Abstract

We report the case of a 21-year-old woman with symmetrically distributed, ulcerated nodules and plaques on the face, neck and arms. Initial differential diagnoses included pyoderma or sarcoidosis based on the clinical presentation and histopathology with non-caseating granulomas. After inefficient treatment with topical and systemic fusidic acid and steroids, we diagnosed nodular secondary syphilis owing to positive serology and immunohistochemical staining of Treponema pallidum in lesional skin. After treatment with benzathine penicillin, skin lesions improved and antibody titres declined significantly within 3 months. Nodular skin lesions in secondary syphilis are rare with 15 reported cases within the last 20 years. Furthermore, the granulomatous histology is often misleading. Our patient's case suggests that the physicians should be aware of syphilis as a possible differential diagnosis also in patients outside a high-risk population for sexually transmitted diseases and with an unusual clinical presentation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Date:2013
Deposited On:19 Nov 2013 17:11
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 23:52
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:1757-790X
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2013-009130
PubMed ID:23661656

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