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Clin Dermatol. 2006 Sep-Oct;24(5):414-29.

Cutaneous vasculitis: diagnosis and management.

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Division of Dermatology, Albany Medical College, MC-81, NY 12208, USA.


Vasculitis is histologically defined as inflammatory cell infiltration and destruction of blood vessels. Vasculitis is classified as primary (idiopathic, eg, cutaneous leukocytoclastic angiitis, Wegener's granulomatosis) or secondary, a manifestation of connective tissue diseases, infections, adverse drug eruptions, or a paraneoplastic phenomenon. Cutaneous vasculitis, manifested as urticaria, purpura, hemorrhagic vesicles, ulcers, nodules, livedo, infarcts, or digital gangrene, is a frequent and often significant component of many systemic vasculitic syndromes such as lupus or rheumatoid vasculitis and antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated primary vasculitic syndromes such as Churg-Strauss syndrome. In most instances, cutaneous vasculitis represents a self-limited, single-episode phenomenon, the treatment of which consists of general measures such as leg elevation, warming, avoidance of standing, cold temperatures and tight fitting clothing, and therapy with antihistamines, aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. More extensive therapy is indicated for symptomatic, recurrent, extensive, and persistent skin disease or coexistence of systemic disease. For mild recurrent or persistent disease, colchicine and dapsone are first-choice agents. Severe cutaneous and systemic disease requires more potent immunosuppression (prednisone plus azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, or mycophenolate mofetil). In cases of refractory vasculitis, plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin are viable considerations. The new biologic therapies that work via cytokine blockade or lymphocyte depletion such as tumor alpha inhibitor infliximab and the anti-B-cell antibody rituximab, respectively, are showing benefit in certain settings such as Wegener's granulomatosis, antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis, Beh├žet's disease, and cryoglobulinemic vasculitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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