Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Bullous Dermatitis Artefacta

Sokumbi, Olayemi, MD*; Comfere, Nneka I., MD*,†; McEvoy, Marian T., MD*; Peters, Margot S., MD*,†

The American Journal of Dermatopathology: February 2013 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 110–112
doi: 10.1097/DAD.0b013e31825dd246
Extraordinary Case Report

Abstract: Bullous artefactual dermatoses are rare and may be induced by various techniques, including chemicals, heat, or electrical current. Proving a factitial etiology and identifying the mechanism of injury may be difficult. We describe the clinical features and histopathology of 2 patients with bullous disease induced by electrical current or heat. Physical examination in both patients demonstrated geometrically shaped tense bullae. Skin biopsies revealed epidermal necrosis overlying a pauci-inflammatory subepidermal cleft, with homogenization of underlying superficial dermal collagen. In 1 of the 2 patients, there was prominent vertical elongation of keratinocyte nuclei and also of cytoplasmic processes. Direct immunofluorescence study of skin plus testing of serum by indirect immunofluorescence and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for BP180 and BP230 antibodies revealed no evidence for immunobullous disease in either patient. Vertical elongation of keratinocyte nuclei, often attributed to a polarization effect of electrical current, is characteristic of electrical burn but also may be induced by thermal injury. These 2 patients highlight the importance of histopathology in confirming a diagnosis of bullous dermatitis artefacta.

Department of *Dermatology

Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Reprints: Margot S. Peters, MD, Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Presented as a poster at the annual meeting of the International Society of Dermatopathology, San Diego, CA, March 14–15, 2012.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.