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Dowling-Degos disease is a skin condition characterized by a lacy or net- like (reticulate) pattern of abnormally dark skin coloring (hyperpigmentation), particularly in the body's folds and creases. Other features may include dark lesions on the face and back that resemble blackheads, red bumps around the mouth that resemble acne, depressed or pitted scars on the face similar to acne scars but with no history of acne, cysts within hair follicles (pilar cysts) on the scalp, and rarely, patches of skin that are unusually light in color (hypopigmented). Symptoms typically develop in late childhood or in adolescence and progress over time. While the skin changes caused by Dowling-Degos disease can be bothersome, they typically don't cause health problems. Dowling-Degos disease is caused by mutations in the KRT5 gene. This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.
Source: GARD Last updated on 05-01-20
Dowling-Degos disease is characterized by a lacy or net-like (reticulate) pattern of abnormally dark skin coloring (hyperpigmentation), particularly in the body's folds and creases. These skin changes typically first appear in the armpits and groin area and can later spread to other skin folds such as the crook of the elbow and back of the knee. Less commonly, pigmentation changes can also occur on the wrist, back of the hand, face, scalp, scrotum (in males), and vulva (in females). These areas of hyperpigmentation are not affected by exposure to sunlight.
Individuals with Dowling-Degos disease may also have dark lesions on the face and back that resemble blackheads, red bumps around the mouth that resemble acne, or depressed or pitted scars on the face similar to acne scars but with no history of acne. Cysts within the hair follicle (pilar cysts) may develop, most commonly on the scalp. Rarely, affected individuals have patches of skin that are unusually light in color (hypopigmented).
The pigmentation changes characteristic of Dowling-Degos disease typically begin in late childhood or in adolescence, although in some individuals, features of the condition do not appear until adulthood. New areas of hyperpigmentation tend to develop over time, and the other skin lesions tend to increase in number as well. While the skin changes caused by Dowling-Degos disease can be bothersome, they typically cause no health problems.
Last updated on 05-01-20
There is no cure for Dowling-Degos disease. Many different treatments have been tried for this condition, but none has proven effective in eliminating the symptoms for all patients. Topical retinoic acids, topical steroids, hydroquinone, tretinoin, and systemic retinoids have been used without success. Limited reports indicate at least temporary therapeutic benefit with topical adapalene. Various laser systems (CO2 and erbiumYAG) have also shown some promise.
Additional articles that address this topic can be accessed below:
Wenzel G, Petrow W, Tappe K, Gerdsen R, Uerlich WP, Bieber T. Treatment of Dowling-Degos disease with Er:YAG-laser: results after 2.5 years. Dermatol Surg. 2003 Nov;29(11):1161-2.
Wenzel J, Tappe K, Gerdsen R, Uerlich M, Philipp-Dormston W, Bieber T, Petrow W. Successful treatment of Dowling-Degos disease with Er:YAG laser. Dermatol Surg. 2002 Aug;28(8):748-50.
Altomare G, Capella GL, Fracchiolla C, Frigerio E. Effectiveness of topical adapalene in Dowling-Degos disease. Dermatology. 1999;198(2):176-7.
Last updated on 05-01-20
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