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Dermatologic Aspects of Actinomycosis Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 27, 2016

Diagnostic Considerations

Also consider the following:

  • Brucellosis
  • Botryomycosis
  • Blastomycosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Central giant cell granuloma
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Burkitt lymphoma
  • Bisphosphonate

Consider actinomycosis infection in the differential diagnosis of any acute, subacute, or chronic cutaneous or soft tissue swelling of the head, face, or neck.

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Pathology, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society for Clinical Pathology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Drore Eisen, MD, DDS Consulting Staff, Department of Dermatology, Dermatology Research Associates of Cincinnati

Drore Eisen, MD, DDS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Oral Medicine, American Dental Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Janet Fairley, MD Professor and Head, Department of Dermatology, University of Iowa, Roy J and Lucille A Carver College of Medicine

Janet Fairley, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Federation for Medical Research, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Many thanks for continuous help and advice from doctor Edward Jonson, MD, internationally known infectious diseases specialist and Dean, Trinity School of Medicine and Caribbean Studies, Saint Vincent.

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Photomicrograph of gram-positive organisms in actinomycosis, which may be confused with those causing a mycotic infection (hematoxylin and eosin, original magnification X40).
Photomicrograph of a characteristic sulfur granule of actinomycosis (hematoxylin and eosin, original magnification X10).
Diagram of potential oral anaerobic infection.
Image shows an oral fistula caused by actinomycosis.
Periapical radiograph shows infection in the premolar tooth.
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