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Ulerythema Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 24, 2016

Diagnostic Considerations

Differentiate the following:

  • Atrophoderma vermiculatum
  • Keratosis pilaris atrophicans (ulerythema ophryogenes) and keratosis pilaris decalvans
  • Psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, pityriasis rubra pilaris, and ichthyosis vulgaris
  • Erythromelanosis follicularis faciei [16]
  • Folliculotropic mycosis fungoides [17]
  • Nilotinib-induced keratosis pilaris‒like eruption [18]

Ulerythema is not always differentiated from keratosis pilaris, which is rather common in young women; keratosis pilaris commonly occurs on the extensor surfaces of the arms. Keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans mainly affects the scalp, but it should also be considered a differential diagnosis.

Pityriasis rubra pilaris and psoriasis may also require distinction. Although pityriasis rubra pilaris may be similar to psoriasis, important clinical symptoms of psoriasis are missing, including the whitish scales, the Auspitz sign, and the nail pitting. The tiny follicular yellow-red papules are a typical clinical sign of pityriasis rubra pilaris, thereby distinguishing it from psoriasis.

In small children, ulerythema must be differentiated from seborrhoic dermatitis and from atopic dermatitis.

Graham-Little syndrome, an unusual form of lichen planopilaris, characterized by the presence of cicatricial alopecia on the scalp, keratosis pilaris of the trunk and extremities, and noncicatricial hair loss of the pubis and axillae, sometimes requires distinction.[19]

Unilateral keratosis pilaris atrophicans faciei may mimic follicular mucinosis.[20]

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Camila K Janniger, MD Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Dermatology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Camila K Janniger, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

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.

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

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

James J Nordlund, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

James J Nordlund, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Sigma Xi, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author, Aleksej Kansky, MD, PhD, to the development and writing of this article.

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