Lupus vulgaris

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aarti Narayan, M.B.B.S [2] Kiran Singh, M.D. [3]

Synonyms and Keywords: Tuberculosis luposa


Lupus vulgaris[1] are painful cutaneous tuberculosis skin lesions with nodular appearance, most often on the face around nose, eyelids, lips, cheeks and ears.[2]:335 The lesions may ultimately develop into disfiguring skin ulcers if left untreated.

Historical Perspective

In the 19th century, the chronic and progressive nature of this disease was particularly marked: it remained active for ten years, twenty years, or even longer and, proved resistant to all treatment until the breakthrough by Niels Ryberg Finsen using a form of "concentrated light radiation" now known as Photobiomodulation which won him a Nobel Prize. Queen Alexandra of Great Britain, (1844–1925), consort to Edward the VII, as the inscription on the bronze statue of her at the London Hospital, notes, "Introduced to England the Finsen light cure for Lupus, and presented the first lamp to this hospital".

The term "lupus" to describe an ulcerative skin disease dates to the late thirteenth century, though it was not until the mid-nineteenth that two specific skin diseases were classified as Lupus erythematosus and Lupus vulgaris. The term "lupus" may derive from the rapacity and virulence of the disease; a 1590 work described it as "a malignant ulcer quickly consuming the neather parts; ... very hungry like unto a woolfe".[3]


  • Lupus vulgaris often develops due to inadequately treated pre-existing tuberculosis. It may also develop at site of BCG vaccination. [4]
  • It begins as painless reddish-brown nodules which slowly enlarge to form irregularly shaped red.


Physical Examination



Microscopic Pathology

Lupus histology.jpg

Histologically, it shows well-formed granulomas with necrotic centers in dermis.

Differentiating Lupus vulgaris from other Diseases

The condition should be distinguished from:


In long standing scarred lesion, squamous cell carcinoma can develop.


Physical Examination

Lupus vulgaris.jpg
Lupus vulgaris in a woman in the 19th century
Hyperkeratotic changes in the skin

Laboratory Findings


On diascopy, it shows characteristic "apple-jelly" color.


Biopsy will reveal tuberculoid granuloma with few bacilli.


Medical Therapy

A dermatologist or general physician usually administers combination therapy of drugs used for tuberculosis, such as Rifampicin, Isoniazid and Pyrazinamide (possibly with either streptomycin or ethambutol).


  1. Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. pp. Chapter 74. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0.
  2. James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0.
  3. "Lupus", Oxford English Dictionary, online second edition. Accessed 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dermatology - A colour handbook, 2nd ed. Manson Publishing. 2010. p. 216. ISBN 9781840765960.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Dermatology Atlas".

External Links

cs:Lupus vulgaris id:Lupus vulgaris