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Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Anthony A Gaspari, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 08, 2016

Medical Care

No therapy for epidermodysplasia verruciformis is definitive. Treatment of epidermodysplasia verruciformis includes preventive measures, the most important of which is strict sun avoidance and protection, beginning as soon as the diagnosis is made.

Nonsurgical therapies for the management of skin cancers include topical imiquimod and 5-fluorouracil, systemic retinoids, interferon, and 5-aminolevulinic acid photodynamic therapy.[25, 26]

In advanced human papillomavirus (HPV)–related carcinomas, an experimental therapy involves treatment with a combination of 13-cis retinoic acid and interferon alpha or cholecalciferol analogues.[27]

For localized multiple malignant lesions, autotransplantation of skin from uninvolved areas has been reported with success in preventing further development of cancers.

UV-B exposure, UV-A exposure, and x-ray irradiation should be avoided because radiation therapy often promotes the recurrence of more aggressive skin cancers.


Surgical Care

Surgical and electrosurgical removal and cryotherapy are used in the treatment of benign and premalignant skin lesions. Surgery is also indicated for treatment of malignant lesions. If skin grafting is necessary, the graft should be from sun-protected skin.[28]



Malignant transformation of skin lesions, particularly ocular squamous cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, has been observed in more than half the patients followed for 20-30 years. Malignant tumors are typically found after age 30 years, usually during the fourth and fifth decades of life.[29, 30]

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Anthony A Gaspari, MD Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Anthony A Gaspari, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Association of Immunologists, American Contact Dermatitis Society, American Medical Association, Clinical Immunology Society, Dermatology Foundation, Society for Investigative 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.

Lester F Libow, MD Dermatopathologist, South Texas Dermatopathology Laboratory

Lester F Libow, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, Texas Medical 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

Grace F Kao, MD Clinical Professor of Dermatopathology, Department of Dermatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and George Washington University Medical School; Director, Dermatopathology Section, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Veterans Affairs Maryland Healthcare System, Baltimore, Maryland

Grace F Kao, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, International Society of Dermatopathology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Vermont College of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Division of Dermatology, Fletcher Allen Health Care

Kathryn Schwarzenberger, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Women's Dermatologic Society, American Contact Dermatitis Society, Medical Dermatology Society, Dermatology Foundation, Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Susannah E McClain, MD Resident Physician, Department of Dermatology, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Susannah E McClain, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Epidermodysplasia verruciformis cutaneous lesions with flat macules that vary from flesh-colored to reddish brown or brown plaques, with slightly scaly surfaces and irregular borders present on the forehead of an 8-year-old boy, who is one of the 2 sons of the epidermodysplasia verruciformis patient shown in the next image.
Verrucous or seborrheic keratosis–like lesions of epidermodysplasia verruciformis; they are commonly seen on sun-exposed skin. Lesions are present on dorsum of hands of a 34-year-old man who had 2 affected sons (previous image).
A 41-year-old white woman with a 25-year history of numerous flat warts on her bilateral upper and lower extremities. Shave biopsy of a leg papule showed findings consistent with verruca plana.
Mild acanthosis, bridging of rete ridges, prominent granular layer, and rare koilocytotic keratinocytes, as is seen in lesions of verruca plana, are present in this lesion of epidermodysplasia verruciformis (hematoxylin and eosin; X150).
Left: Photomicrograph of a precancerous, verrucous skin lesion from a patient with epidermodysplasia verruciformis depicts the characteristic microscopic features of specific cytopathic effect, that is, the presence of clear cells and an occasional enlarged, hyperchromatic, atypical nucleus (center of the field) in the epidermis. These changes are seen in human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated epithelial lesions (hematoxylin-eosin stain, original magnification X250). Right: Photomicrograph of the same skin lesion shows positive staining of keratinocytes infected with HPV type 8 (in situ hybridization, original magnification X250). Note the darker, spherical-to-ovoid shaped positive nuclear staining. These are sites of HPV DNA.
Dense deposits of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA are demonstrated by immunostaining the skin biopsy of a warty lesion of epidermodysplasia verruciformis. Note prominent vacuolation of the cytoplasm of the infected cells (koilocytosis), typical of lesions associated with HPV infection. The darker positive staining areas are sites of HPV DNA (in situ hybridization, original magnification X450).
A photomicrograph shows an invasive well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma, that arose in a warty lesion on sun-exposed skin of a middle-aged patient with epidermodysplasia verruciformis. Notice the atypical, neoplastic squamous cancer cells with irregular, hyperchromatic nuclei, and an occasional bizarre mitotic figure (shown near the 12-o'clock position in this field) invading into the dermis. A moderate host lymphocytic inflammatory response is present within the tumor (hematoxylin-eosin stain, original magnification X300). Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer found in patients with epidermodysplasia verruciformis.
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