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Histological Spectrum of Cutaneous Herpes Infections

Hoyt, Brian BS*; Bhawan, Jag MD

The American Journal of Dermatopathology: August 2014 - Volume 36 - Issue 8 - p 609–619
doi: 10.1097/DAD.0000000000000148
CME Article

Abstract: 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.

*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.

Reprints: Jag Bhawan, MD, Section of Dermatopathology, Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, 609 Albany St, J-308, Boston, MA 02118 (e-mail:

All authors and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interests in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.