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Kindler Syndrome Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Anatoli Freiman, MD, FRCPC, DABD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Aug 17, 2015


The hallmark of Kindler syndrome is congenital blistering and photosensitivity, combined with progressive poikiloderma and diffuse cutaneous atrophy. Both blistering and photosensitivity begin in infancy or early childhood and improve significantly with age. The poikiloderma appears gradually and becomes more prominent later in life. Some patients develop sclerodermoid changes of the fingers and nails. Recurrent trauma-induced blister formation occurs primarily on hands and feet, which may prompt an incorrect diagnosis of epidermolysis bullosa.

Photosensitivity can manifest as increased susceptibility to sunburn. Additionally, patients with Kindler syndrome frequently have poor dental hygiene and dental problems.



Diffuse poikiloderma (reticular telangiectasia, patchy hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation, epidermal atrophy), skin fragility, and atrophic changes (cigarette paper–like wrinkled appearance of the skin) are most prominent in sun-exposed areas, most commonly on the dorsal surfaces of the hands and feet.

During the neonatal period and early childhood, acral blisters and bullae are seen in trauma-prone areas.

Dental abnormalities occur commonly in affected persons and include advanced periodontal bone loss, mild-to-severe gingivitis, dental caries, and leukokeratosis of buccal mucosa. In one study, 13 of 18 patients with the syndrome had marked periodontal disease.[5]

Less common and variable features of the syndrome include pitted or punctate palmoplantar hyperkeratosis (≤65% of individuals), webbing of fingers and toes, nail dystrophy, and, in one case report, abnormal skeletal maturation.

Mucosal involvement is frequent and leads to urethral, anal, and esophageal stenosis.

Ophthalmic abnormalities have also been described in some patients and include ectropion, keratoconjunctivitis, and conjunctival scarring.

Early development of actinic keratoses may occur. Squamous cell carcinoma of the lower lip and transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder have also been reported in one patient with Kindler syndrome.



Kindler syndrome has been shown to result from mutations in the KIND1 gene on band 20p12.3 (see Pathophysiology). An autosomal recessive pattern of transmission has been reported, but sporadic cases are common, with many originating in consanguineous families. Variable expressivity within families has also been documented. Mutations in the gene encoding type VII collagen (COLA7A1) have been excluded, distinguishing Kindler syndrome from dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Anatoli Freiman, MD, FRCPC, DABD Consulting Staff, Division of Dermatology, Women's College Hospital, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Canada

Anatoli Freiman, MD, FRCPC, DABD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Canadian Medical Association, Ontario Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Women's Dermatologic Society, Canadian Dermatology Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

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

Franklin Flowers, MD Department of Dermatology, Professor Emeritus Affiliate Associate Professor of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine

Franklin Flowers, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Mohs Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


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

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Images show the progression of lesions. A and B: At birth, acral blisters and erosions are present. C and D: At age 5 years, atrophy and reticulated erythema with dyschromic patches are noted. E and F: At age 7 years, progressive poikilodermatous changes with reticulated erythema and telangiectasia occur. G and H: At age 10 and 15 years, poikiloderma with telangiectasia and depigmentation are observed. Excoriations are due to pruritus. Reprinted from Yasukawa K, Sato-Matsumura KC, McMillan J, et al: Exclusion of COL7A1 mutation in Kindler syndrome. J Am Acad Dermatol 2002 Mar; 46(3): 447-50. Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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