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Am J Dermatopathol. 2014 Aug;36(8):609-19. doi: 10.1097/DAD.0000000000000148.

Histological spectrum of cutaneous herpes infections.

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*Medical Student, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX; and †Professor of Dermatology and Pathology, Head Dermatopathology Section, Vice Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.


Herpes simplex virus and varicella zoster virus are double-stranded DNA viruses that commonly infect humans, resulting in cutaneous manifestations. Diagnosis is generally made based on clinical findings; however, when the presentation is atypical, biopsy can aid in making a correct diagnosis. The classic histopathological findings of herpetic infection are well established (acantholysis, ballooning degeneration, intranuclear inclusions, multinucleation, necrosis, and formation of vesicles or ulcers). Herpes infection can also cause histopathological changes in many dermal structures. Furthermore, herpes can masquerade as a variety of hematologic malignancies or benign cutaneous conditions. The histopathological spectrum of herpes infections is reviewed and discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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