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Pityriasis Lichenoides Medication

  • Author: Mark Tye Haeberle, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Aug 26, 2015

Medication Summary

No randomized controlled trials have been performed in Mucha-Habermann disease. Since the disease course tends towards self-resolution, evaluation of treatments without adequate controls cannot result in rational recommendations. Nevertheless, a number of open trials have reported success with light therapy and oral medications.

Phototherapy has been reported useful in the treatment of subacute or chronic disease.[28] Psoralen plus UV-A (PUVA) therapy (150-200 J/cm2) has been reported, with as many as 4 treatments per week to a total of 30-35 treatments, depending on the patient's skin type. UV-A without psoralens and UV-B may result in clearing. Relapses are not uncommon. Narrow-band ultraviolet B phototherapy and photodynamic therapy have also been reported as effective.[29, 30, 31, 32, 33]

Case reports suggest the use of multiple oral medications including tetracycline,[18] azithromycin, erythromycin, sulfonamides, dapsone, chloroquine, streptomycin, isoniazid, penicillin, methotrexate (MTX),[34] etretinate, and pentoxifylline. Potent topical corticosteroids may be useful if few lesions are present. Systemic corticosteroids may have a role in severe cases of PLEVA. Despite a lack of randomized controlled trials, oral tetracycline and erythromycin have been prescribed most often in case series.



Class Summary

Antibiotics may have immunomodulatory activity. Empiric antimicrobial therapy must be comprehensive and should cover all likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting.

Tetracycline (Sumycin)


Tetracycline treats gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, as well as mycoplasmal, chlamydial, and rickettsial infections. It inhibits bacterial protein synthesis by binding with 30S and possibly 50S ribosomal subunit(s).

Erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Ery-Tab)


Erythromycin inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl tRNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest. It is used for staphylococcal and streptococcal infections.

In children, age, weight, and severity of infection determine proper dosage. When twice-daily dosing is desired, half the total daily dose may be administered every 12 hours. For more severe infections, the dose is doubled.



Class Summary

Tricyclic furocoumarins, when combined with UV radiation, produce DNA photoproducts resulting in suppression of both DNA synthesis and cell division.

Methoxsalen (Oxsoralen-Ultra, 8-MOP)


Methoxsalen inhibits mitosis by binding covalently to pyrimidine bases in DNA when photoactivated by UV-A.



Class Summary

Retinoids regulate cell growth and proliferation.

Acitretin (Soriatane)


Acitretin is a retinoic acid analog, similar to etretinate and isotretinoin. Etretinate is the main metabolite and has demonstrated clinical effects close to those seen with etretinate. The mechanism of action is unknown.



Class Summary

Methotrexate inhibits dihydrofolate reductase, thereby hindering DNA synthesis and cell reproduction.

Methotrexate (Folex, Rheumatrex)


Methotrexate may suppress the immune system. It ameliorates symptoms of inflammation (eg, pain, swelling, stiffness). A satisfactory response is seen in 3-6 weeks following administration. Adjust the dose gradually to attain a satisfactory response.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Mark Tye Haeberle, MD Resident Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Mark Tye Haeberle, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Student Association/Foundation, American Society of Dermatopathology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jeffrey P Callen, MD Professor of Medicine (Dermatology), Chief, Division of Dermatology, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Jeffrey P Callen, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, American College of Rheumatology

Disclosure: Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Eli Lilly; XOMA; Biogen/IDEC; Novartis; Celgene<br/>Received honoraria from UpToDate for author/editor; Received honoraria from JAMA Dermatology for associate editor and intermittent author; Received royalty from Elsevier for book author/editor; Received i do not control these accounts, but have directed our managers to divest pharmaceutical stocks as is fiscally prudent from Stock holdings in various trust accounts include some pharmaceutical companies and device makers for i inherited these trust accounts; .

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.

Daniel S Loo, MD Associate Professor of Dermatology, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, Tufts Medical Center

Daniel S Loo, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Association of Professors of Dermatology

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

Peter A Klein, MD Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Washington at Seattle School of Medicine; Chief, Dermatology Section, Primary and Specialty Care Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center of Seattle

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Peter A Klein, MD  Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Typical hemorrhagic crusted papules of pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta.
Close-up view of typical lesions of pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta.
Scaling papules of pityriasis lichenoides chronica.
Close-up view of typical pityriasis lichenoides chronica lesions. Note papules in different stages of evolution and the scale with frosted-glass appearance in the lower right-hand corner.
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