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Erythema Dyschromicum Perstans Treatment & Management

  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 07, 2016

Medical Care

Many therapeutic options are available for erythema dyschromicum perstans (EDP), but few have been effective, except for clofazimine. In one series of 8 patients, 7 had a good or excellent response to clofazimine administered either 100 mg every other day to patients weighing less than 40 kg or 100 mg every day to patients weighing more than 40 kg. This medication was continued for 3 months, then reduced to 200 mg/wk and 400 mg/wk, respectively. The one remaining patient had only a marginal response. One study found some improvement in early cases, but no cures were reported. This medication seems to have a valuable effect on the inflammatory phase of erythema dyschromicum perstans.

Clofazimine is a lipophilic rhimophenazine dye with both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties originally developed to treat tuberculosis. Although its mechanism of action is unclear, it seems to exert its main effect upon neutrophils and monocytes in a variety of ways, such as stimulating phagocytosis and release of lysosomal enzymes.[28]

Clofazimine is administered orally, with improved bioavailability when taken with food. It concentrates in lipid-rich tissues, including the reticuloendothelial system, the intestine, the breasts, and the liver. Its half-life is 70 days. Isoniazid increases its serum levels and enhances its urinary excretion. Its most common adverse effects are in the skin, the gut, and the eye. It gives a temporary orange discoloration of the skin and the eye (ie, cornea, conjunctivae); it also may produce ichthyosis. Its most serious adverse effect is crystal deposition in the gut that produces a potentially fatal enteropathy. This rare complication is associated with months of high-dose (>100 mg/d) therapy. Nausea and diarrhea are more common. Splenic infarction and eosinophilic enteritis are also rare adverse effects.

Many other therapeutic modalities have been attempted, none with satisfactory results. These include ultraviolet exposure, ultraviolet avoidance, antibiotics, antihistamines, griseofulvin, chemical peels, antibiotics, corticosteroids, vitamins, isoniazid, chloroquine, and psychotherapy. The use of narrow-band UVB phototherapy has shown success in a few patients.[29, 30] A low-potency topical steroid applied twice a day to the affected areas may be used, with or without a 4% hydroquinone cream for the hyperpigmentation.[31]  A favorable result with isotretinoin has been observed.[32] A patient from Turkey was described to have responded remarkably well to treatment with dapsone.[33]



No significant complications have been described in erythema dyschromicum perstans (EDP). See Medical Care for complications associated with clofazimine therapy.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

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.


Santiago A Centurion, MD Dermatologist, Dermatology Associates of Central NJ

Santiago A Centurion, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, American Society of Dermatopathology, Sigma Xi

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.

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: XOMA; Biogen/IDEC; Novartis; Janssen Biotech, Abbvie, CSL pharma<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 dividends from trust accounts, but I do not control these accounts, and 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; for: Celgene; Pfizer; 3M; Johnson and Johnson; Merck; Abbott Laboratories; AbbVie; Procter and Gamble; Amgen.

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

Shyam Verma, MBBS, DVD, FAAD Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Virginia School of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, State University of New York at Stonybrook School of Medicine; Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Shyam Verma, MBBS, DVD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Ash-colored, partially confluent, macular lesions over the patient's back. Reprint with permission from Cutis 1986; 37: 42-44.
Close-up photograph shows ash-colored macular lesions and lack of an inflammatory border. Reprint with permission from Cutis 1986; 37: 42-44.
Photomicrograph of a lesion on the patient's back shows slight basilar vacuolar change, extensive pigment incontinence, dilatation of dermal lymphatics, and lack of inflammation (hematoxylin & eosin, original magnification X24.8). Reprint with permission from Cutis 1986; 37: 42-44.
Higher-power photograph shows slight vacuolar basilar change, marked dilatation of intradermal lymphatics, incontinence of melanin pigment, and lack of inflammation (hematoxylin & eosin, original magnification X238). Reprint with permission from Cutis 1986; 37: 42-44.
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