Treatment of Urticaria Pigmentosa with Corticosteroids

John Barton, Robert M. Lavker, Norman M. Schechter, Gerald S. Lazarus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Based on a previous observation that the long-term application of potent topical corticosteroids under occlusion to normal skin resulted in the loss of mast cells, we investigated the effects of intralesional and topical steroids in urticaria pigmentosa (UP). Three patients with UP had lesions that were injected with triamcinolone acetonide. Four weeks after injection, all patients showed a loss of Darier's sign, and, by eight weeks after injection, there was a dramatic clearing of the plaques and a decrease in brown hyperpigmentation. By 12 weeks, mast cells were undetectable by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The injection sites remained dramatically improved for as long as one year after treatment, and histamine content was reduced 95% in one patient 48 weeks after injection. In six patients, the topical application of 0.05% betamethasone dipropionate under occlusion to limited areas induced almost complete clearing of UP lesions. Lesions treated with an emollient under occlusion, as a control, demonstrated no change. After treatment, no mast cells were seen by light microscopy or TEM, and this persisted for at least 24 weeks. There was also a significant decrease in tissue histamine levels in the treated areas. The treated areas remained clinically improved for at least nine to 12 months. These data indicate that steroid therapy dramatically decreases the excess number of normal-appearing mast cells in UP as well as induces a prolonged resolution of UP lesions. Local corticosteroids thus are a useful therapeutic modality for UP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1516-1523
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Dermatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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