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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Apr;188(4):1083-92.

Specific dermatoses of pregnancy: an evidence-based systematic review.

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Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Newton.



We conducted an evidence-based systematic analysis of the literature on specific dermatoses of pregnancy.


The bibliographic databases MEDLINE and EMBASE were screened for studies and reports in all languages about herpes gestationis, pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, pruritic folliculitis of pregnancy, and prurigo of pregnancy from January 1962 to January 2002. As main index terms, including analogs and derivatives, we used the names of specific dermatoses of pregnancy. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, not a primary dermatosis, was included herein because this disorder is associated with pregnancy and its secondary skin manifestations must be differentiated from specific dermatoses of pregnancy. Other sources were abstract books of symposia and congresses, theses, textbooks, monographs, reviews, editorials, letters to the editor, free or rapid communications, and the reference lists from all the articles that were retrieved. All articles selected for inclusion in this review were evaluated critically with regard to their impact factor and evidence-based contribution to this field, as measured by their citation index and impact factor of the journal in which they were published. Approximately 39% of articles met the selection criteria.


The clinical features and prognosis of the specific dermatoses of pregnancy have been delineated through a number of retrospective and cohort studies. The molecular biologic and immunogenetic properties of herpes gestationis, pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy have been further clarified. A meta-analysis in this review reveals a higher prevalence of multiple gestation pregnancy (11.7%) among patients with pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Several investigations have unraveled the fetal complications in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and herpes gestationis. New treatment modalities in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (cholestyramine, ursodeoxycholic acid) and herpes gestationis (cyclosporin, intravenous immunoglobulin, and tetracyclines postpartum) have shown promise and warrant further evaluation.


During the past few decades, a significant amount of new data has provided new insights into the classification, pathogenesis, treatment, prognosis, and fetal risks that are associated with the specific dermatoses of pregnancy.

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