Indexed with PubMed and Science Citation Index (E) 
Users online: 1476 
     Home | Feedback | Login 
About Current Issue Archive Ahead of print Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe What's New Contact  
  Navigate here 
   Next article
   Previous article 
   Table of Contents
 Resource links
   Similar in PUBMED
    Search Pubmed for
    Search in Google Scholar for
  Related articles
   Article in PDF (1,918 KB)
   Citation Manager
   Access Statistics
   Reader Comments
   Email Alert *
   Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Article Figures
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded158    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 11    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2010  |  Volume : 76  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 85

Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis: A report of 16 cases

1 Department of Dermatology, Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar, Faisal, Pakistan
2 Department of Dermatology, PAF Hospital, Faisal, Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Web Publication6-Jan-2010

Correspondence Address:
Arfan Ul Bari
Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.58698

Rights and Permissions


Background: Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is known as the chronic form of CL. However, keeping its clinical presentation in view, there is a need to revisit this form of disease. Aims: To redefine/describe lupoid CL in view of clinical features. Methods: It was a case series seen in Muzaffarabad (Pakistan) from Jan 2006 to May 2008. All patients clinically suggestive and consistent with laboratory diagnosis of CL were registered. Patients of all age groups and either sex having cutaneous lesions resembling lupus vulgaris or lupus erythematosus on the face or elsewhere were included in the study. Those having chronic fluctuating/relapsing course or scarring within the lesions were also included. Various demographic features of the patients and clinical patterns were recorded. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis. Results: Of 254 registered patients of CL, 16 (6.3%) were diagnosed as lupoid CL. None of the patients had scarred lesions. Age ranged from 38 to 75 (55 + 15.11) years and duration of lesions varied from 4 to 32 (14.25 + 07.59) weeks. All patients had lesions over the face. Thirteen (81.25%) had a large solitary plaque extending over the nose and a large part of the cheeks and three (18.75%) had multiple lesions. Lesions were central/nasal in two (12.5%), unilateral/asymmetrical in four (25%) and bilateral/symmetrical in 10 (62.5%). Morphological patterns included erythematous/infiltrated (7), psoriasiform (6), ulcerated/crusted (2) and Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE)[G1] like (1). Conclusion: Lupoid CL is not strictly a chronic form of disease, which presents on the face from the very onset and shows no scarring or recurrence.

Keywords: Chronic cutaneous leishmaniasis, Cutaneous leishmaniasis, Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis

How to cite this article:
Ul Bari A, Raza N. Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis: A report of 16 cases. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2010;76:85

How to cite this URL:
Ul Bari A, Raza N. Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis: A report of 16 cases. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Jan 20];76:85. Available from:

  Introduction Top

The diverse clinical spectrum of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is dependent on a number of factors, such as the type and duration of clinical lesion, strain of organism, geographic location, parasitic load, disease reservoir and host immunocompetence, etc. [1],[2] During the usual course of the disease, there is an evolution of lesions as they progress from a papule/nodule to an infiltrated, indurated, crusted plaque/nodule. The lesion then usually breaks open, after a varying period of 3-4 months, into a well-circumscribed ulcer, which heals slowly over a period of 3-12 months. Occasionally, the healing does not take place and the lesion may then persist as a chronic yellow-brown firm nodule. [1],[2],[3],[4] Opinion has varied for the definition of chronic lesions, with different criteria (6 months to 2 years) being quoted by different authors. [2] Lupoid CL is a particular form of CL with characteristic spreading of the initial lesion leading to an erythematous, infiltrated plaque. Sometimes, brown-red or brown-yellow papules appear. Subsequently, they coalesce and form a plaque closely resembling Lupus vulgaris (LV), even to the formation of apple-jelly nodules. Although not as destructive as LV, lupoid CL may persist and spread for many years. [4],[5] Leishmaniasis recidivans (LR), although frequently used for lupoid CL, is a distinctive form of chronic CL that is usually a complication of Leishmania tropica in the old world and less commonly Leishmania braziliensis in South America. [6] LR refers to the development of new lesions in the center or periphery of a healed acute lesion of CL. Clinically, there is a central scar in which central or peripheral infiltrated papules and crusted inflammatory lesions develop that expands slowly, assuming a circular or arciform configuration. The lesions tend to resist treatment and become chronic. Chronicity of the (CL) lesion is thought to be the result of a peculiar host reaction in which cellular immunity fails to sterilize the lesion, despite the presence of exaggerated hypersensitivity. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Lupoid CL has also been described in the literature as being a chronic form that has a relapsing course and resists treatment like LR. The present study is aimed to describe the clinical features of lupoid CL in context with clinical features of chronic CL described in the medical literature. Because lupoid CL and LR have been frequently used interchangeably for the chronic form of CL, this is also an attempt to differentiate these two entities.

  Methods Top

The study was conducted at the dermatology outpatient department of CMH, Muzaffarabad, over a period of 29 months from January 2006 to May 2008. All patients belonging to the Muzaffarabad district and its surrounding areas, irrespective of their age and sex and duration of disease, diagnosed clinically and substantiated with laboratory as cases of CL were initially registered. Patients of CL having non-circumscribed, diffuse erythematous/psoriasiform/infiltrated lesions (resembling lupus vulgaris [LV] or lupus erythematosus [LE]) on the face or elsewhere were included in the study and those who were partially treated for the disease earlier were excluded. Patients with lesions not clinically resembling lupoid but having history of fluctuating course, scarring within the lesions or reactivation of previously healed/partially healed lesions were also included. Diagnosis was based on history of origin of the patient (endemic areas) and clinical characteristics of lesions (painless, non-itchy, slowly evolving nodule, plaque or ulcer on exposed areas of the body not responding to conventional antibiotics). Clinical diagnosis was then confirmed by slit skin smear (SSS) or fine needle aspiration cytology smears. Skin biopsy was performed in selected cases (where cytology did not confirm diagnosis). All the patients finally included in the study had either positive SSSs or positive histology for Leishmania parasite. A standard protocol was followed for each patient. Detailed demographic features, duration of disease, number and site of lesions, morphological patterns of disease and treatment modalities employed were recorded in all cases. Patients were explained about the study in the language they understood and informed consent was obtained from all patients.

Patients who agreed to indoor treatment were treated with daily intramuscular injections of meglumine antimonite (20 mg/kg) and those who could not afford hospitalization were treated with weekly local infiltration of all parts of the lesions with meglumine antimonate. Treatment was continued till clinical healing of the lesions. After treatment, patients were advised for follow-up monthly for 6 months and then bimonthly during a further 6 months to look for any recurrence.

Computer program SPSS version 10 was used to manage and analyze data. Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) were obtained for the variables where applicable. Mean and standard deviation were calculated for continuous variables. The study was approved by the scientific and ethics committee of the hospital.

  Results Top

During the 29-month period, 254 patients were registered as cases of CL. Of these, 16 (6.3%) were found to have lupoid leishmaniasis. None of the patient had scarred lesions. The male to female ratio for lupoid cases was 1:2.2. Age ranged from 38 to 75 years (median = 55) and duration of lesions varied from 4 weeks to 32 weeks (median = 13). All the 16 patients had lesions over the face without involving any other part of the body. Thirteen patients (81.25%) had a large solitary plaque extending over the nose and a large part of the cheeks. Three (18.75%) had multiple lesions on the face. Lesions were central/nasal in two (12.5%), unilateral/asymmetrical in four (25%) and bilateral/symmetrical (large solitary lesion involving symmetrically both sides of the face and nose) in 10 (62.5%) patients. All of them belonged to known endemic areas and predominantly (87.5%) from a rural background. Demographic features of the patients are given in more detail in [Table 1]. Four different morphological patterns of lupoid CL were observed, which included erythematous/infiltrated (7), psoriasiform (6), ulcerated/crusted (2) and DLE like (1). All the patients were satisfactorily treated with meglumine antimonate (13 with weekly intralesional injections for 8-16 weeks and three patients were given daily intramuscular injections for 14-20 days). Twelve of 16 patients completed 1 year follow-up and the remaining four are being followed-up (two of them have been followed-up for 8 months and two have completed 4 months so far). None of the patients showed any signs of recurrence/relapse of the disease. Some morphological patterns are shown in [Figure 1] (crusted), [Figure 2] and [Figure 3] (diffuse, infiltrated and scaly), [Figure 4] (psoriasiform) and [Figure 5] (DLE like). Photomicrographs of the cytology smear and histopathology are represented in [Figure 6] and [Figure 7].

  Discussion Top

Lupoid CL has long been described as a unique form of CL characterized by unusual clinical features and a chronic relapsing course. In the medical dictionary, [9] the term "Lupoid" means resembling lupus and "lupus" means any of various skin conditions characterized by ulcerative lesions that spread over the body. Morphologically, it mimics lesions of LV or LE. There is no consensus for the definition of chronic lesions of CL as various authors quote different criteria for chronicity. [2] Due to the wide variety of clinical pictures, several terms have been used in the literature for lupoid CL. LR, also termed as relapsing leishmaniasis, has frequently been used for lupoid CL. [7],[8],[9] Clinically, lupoid CL may be similar to LE or LV, but histologically (being a granulomatous disorder), it looks more like LV, which is thus the most important differential diagnostic consideration and all patients with granulomatous facial lesions from endemic areas or with a positive travel history should be suspected of having CL. [7],[10],[11],[12]

Although lupoid CL has previously been described in the literature frequently, its variable morphological spectrum was not emphasized before and most of the times the term was loosely applied for any form of chronic or relapsing CL. [13],[14],[15],[16],[17] The frequency of lupoid CL in our study reveals that it is no more a rare variant of CL as previously thought in our part of the world. However, it remains to be determined if this form of the disease is an altered immune response of the patient or a different organism is involved in its causation. Although lupoid CL has been reported in children, [18] none of the patients in the study were below the age of 38. Lupoid lesions have been described to occur on various body regions, [11] but in our patients, disease was restricted only to the face and the most common presentation was a large psoriasiform and erythematous infiltrated plaque. Probably, laxity of facial tissue and rich vascularization had been a contributing factor in producing large diffuse erythematous plaques of LL on the face. [12]

Clinical course of lupoid leishmaniasis is thought to be related to changes in cell-mediated immunity that lead to localized or diffuse lesions. The described possible underlying pathogenetic mechanism is an altered balance between TH1 and TH2 cells, with consequent production of IL-4. This altered immune host response is assumed to have contribution in high susceptibility to parasitic infections and to the unusual clinical presentation. Because TH1-type cellular immune responses play a critical role in protection against Leishmania parasite, whereas TH2-type cell activation is thought to result in progressive disease, it is this TH2-type response that is believed to be involved in chronicity and persistence of lesions and delayed or unsatisfactory treatment response in cases of chronic (lupoid/recidevans) cases of CL. [7],[19],[20],[21],[22] However, considering the non-chronic course and excellent response to treatment in all cases of Lupoid CL in our study, the postulated cellular immune mechanism discussed above seems unlikely to operate fully here and the possible role of a new emergent causative species or any mutation in the already prevalent strain causing chronic lesions in the region (L. tropica) [23] cannot be ruled out. This was a limitation of the study that due to non-availability of advanced molecular diagnostic laboratory methods like polymerase chain reaction, we were not able to characterize the zymodeme type of parasite in the region.

This study also has revealed a few clinical observations that are different from other forms of chronic CL. Although minimum duration for the lesions of cutaneous leshmaniasis to be labeled as chronic form is 6 months, [2] 14 of the 16 (87.5%) patients had lupoid lesions of less than 6 months duration. All the patients responded very well to intralesional or intramuscular meglumine antimonate without any adverse effects or residual scars and none of the patients relapsed or reactivated during follow-up. The study also highlighted that these cases can easily and effectively be treated with weekly intralesional injections of an antimonial compound, which is a much more cost-effective, safe and convenient way of treatment in most cases of lupoid CL as against systemic antimonial compounds. [24],[25] Considering these observations, we suggest that lupoid CL should be treated as a different entity than other chronic forms of CL because the hallmarks of chronic CL (chronicity and relapsing, scarring and reactivating course) are clearly lacking in all our patients. Morphologically, the term lupoid CL may be restricted to cases resembling DLE, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)[G2] or non-scarring/non-relapsing cases of LV. Chronic relapsing/scarring or persistent, non-responding cases should be categorized as LR, leishmaniasis cicatrix or chronic scarring CL.

These unique clinical characteristics and morphological spectrum of lupoid cases described here suggest that lupoid CL should be revisited and redefined.

  Conclusion Top

Lupoid leishmaniasis is not a rare entity in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan. Clinically, it presents on the face as lupoid lesions from the very onset, responds favorably to standard treatment and heals without scarring or relapse/reactivation. It does not strictly represent a chronic form of disease and may be differentiated from LR (chronic scarring form of CL).

  References Top

1.Hepburn NC. Cutaneous leishmaniasis: an overview. J Postgrad Med 2003;49:50-4.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Venkataram M, Moosa M, Devi L. Histopathological spectrum in cutaneous leishmaniasis: A study in Oman. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2001;67:294-8  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
3.Murray HW, Berman JD, Davies CR, Saravia NG. Advances in leishmaniasis. Lancet 2005;366:1561-77.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Ghosn SH, Kurban AK. Leishmaniasis and Other Protozoan Infections. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, Gilchrest BA. Paller AS, Leffell DJ. Eds. Fitzpatrick′s Dermatology in General Medicine. Vol. 11, 7 th ed. Mcgraw Hill Inc; 2008. p. 2001-9.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Lopez FV, Hay RJ. Parasitic Worms and Protozoa. In: Burns T, Breathnack S, Cox N, Griffiths C. Eds. Rook′s Textbook of Dermatology. Vol ii, 7 th ed. Blackwell Science Ltd; 2004. p. 32,35-47.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.Grevelink SA, Lerner EA. Leishmaniasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1996;34:257-72.   Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Momeni AZ, Yotsumoto S, Mehregan DR, Mehregan AH, Mehregan DA, Aminjavaheri M, et al. Chronic lupoid leishmaniasis. Evaluation by polymerase chain reaction. Arch Dermatol 1996;132:198-202.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Kubba R, Al-Gindan Y, el-Hassan AM, Omer AH. Clinical diagnosis of cutaneous leishmaniasis (oriental sore). J Am Acad Dermatol 1987;16:1183-9.  Back to cited text no. 8      
9.The American Heritage; Stedman′s Medical Dictionary. [online] 2008 Jun 24 [cited 2008 Jul 13]. Available from: = lupus  Back to cited text no. 9      
10.Landau M, Srebrnik A, Brenner S. Leishmaniasis recidivans mimicking lupus vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 1996;35:572-3.  Back to cited text no. 10      
11.Masmoudi A, Boudaya S, Ayadi N, Bouassida S, Khabir A, Meziou TJ, et al. Clinical and histological study of lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis (16 cases) Presse Med 2007;36:1738-42.   Back to cited text no. 11      
12.Herrmann A, Wohlrab J, Sudeck H, Burchard GD, Marsch WC. Chronic lupoid leishmaniasis: A rare differential diagnosis in Germany for erythematous infiltrative facial plaques. Hautarzt 2007;58:256-60.   Back to cited text no. 12      
13.Rahman SB, Bari AU. Morphological patterns of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis seen in Pakistan. J Pakistan Assoc Dermatol 12:122-9.  Back to cited text no. 13      
14.Bari AU, Rahman SB. Many faces of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:23-7.  Back to cited text no. 14  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
15.Ysmail-Dahlouk M, Amar Khodja A, Ysmail-Dahlouk S, Ait Belkacem F. Lupoid leishmaniasis. Ann Dermatol Venereol 1994;121:103-6.  Back to cited text no. 15      
16.Shrivastava SB, Haque M, Puri P. Lupoid plaque-A new morphologic variant of post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis. Int J Dermatol 2004;43:428-9.  Back to cited text no. 16      
17.Ghosn S, Dahdah MJ, Kibbi AG. Mutilating lupoid leishmaniasis: twelve years to make the diagnosis! Dermatology 2008;216:187-9.  Back to cited text no. 17      
18.Paradisi M, Grosso MG, Angelo C, Gradoni L, Ludovisi A, N′Doni F, et al. A Pediatric case of lupoid leishmaniasis diagnosed by PCR. Minerva Pediatr 2001;53:33-7.  Back to cited text no. 18      
19.Ber Rahman S, ul Bari A. Cellular immune host response in acute cutaneous leishmaniasis. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2005;15:463-6.  Back to cited text no. 19      
20.Bari AU, Rahman SB. Cutaneous leishmaniasis: an overview of parasitology and hosp-parasite-vector interrelationship. J Pak Assoc Dermatol 2008;18:42-8.  Back to cited text no. 20      
21.Rahman SB, ul Bari A. Comparative cellular immune host response in acute vs healed lesions in cutaneous leishmaniasis. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2006;118:7-12.  Back to cited text no. 21      
22.Guarneri C, Vaccaro M, Cannavς SP, Borgia F, Guarneri B. Erythematous-edematous-infiltrative plaque on the face: cutaneous angio-lupoid leishmaniasis. Eur J Dermatol 2002;12:597-9.  Back to cited text no. 22      
23.Rab MA, al Rustamani L, Bhutta RA, Mahmood MT, Evans DA. Cutaneous leishmaniasis: iso-enzyme characterisation of Leishmania tropica. J Pak Med Assoc 1997;47:270-3.  Back to cited text no. 23      
24.FerahbaΊ A, Mistik S, UtaΊ S, Yaman O, Canoz O, Doganay M, et al. Cutaneous lupoid leishmaniasis: A case report. Cutis 2006;77:25-8; quiz 37-8.  Back to cited text no. 24      
25.Ardehali S, Sodeiphy M, Haghighi P, Rezai H, Vollum D. Studies on chronic (lupoid) leishmaniasis. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 1980;74:439-45.25.  Back to cited text no. 25      


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis
Marc Z. Handler,Parimal A. Patel,Rajendra Kapila,Yasin Al-Qubati,Robert A. Schwartz
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2015; 73(6): 911
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 A strange infiltrative plaque on the face
Claudio Guarneri,Uwe Wollina,Anastasia Chokoeva,Torello Maria Lotti,Georgi Tchernev
The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2015;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 The influence of treatment on the development of leishmaniasis recidiva cutis: a 17-year case-control study in Midwestern Brazil
C.M. Gomes,M.V. Cesetti,O.O. de Morais,M.S.T. Mendes,A.M. Roselino,R.N.R. Sampaio
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2014; : n/a
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Cutaneous leishmaniasis mimicking inflammatory and neoplastic processes: a clinical, histopathological and molecular study of 57 cases
Jad Saab,Faysal Fedda,Ruba Khattab,Lamis Yahya,Asif Loya,Mohamed Satti,Abdul-Ghani Kibbi,Mohammad Adib Houreih,Wasim Raslan,Marwan El-Sabban,Ibrahim Khalifeh
Journal of Cutaneous Pathology. 2012; 39(2): 251
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Cutaneous leishmaniasis mimicking inflammatory and neoplastic processes: A clinical, histopathological and molecular study of 57 cases
Saab, J., Fedda, F., Khattab, R., Yahya, L., Loya, A., Satti, M., Kibbi, A.-G., (...), Khalifeh, I.
Journal of Cutaneous Pathology. 2012; 39(2): 251-262
6 Lupoid Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: A Case Report
Khaled, A., Goucha, S., Trabelsi, S., Zermani, R., Fazaa, B.
Dermatology and Therapy. 2011; 2(1): 36-41
7 Clinical manifestations and distribution of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Pakistan
Afghan, A.K., Kassi, M., Kasi, P.M., Ayub, A., Kakar, N., Marri, S.M.
Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2011; art(359145 )
8 Clinical Manifestations and Distribution of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Pakistan
Abaseen Khan Afghan,Masoom Kassi,Pashtoon Murtaza Kasi,Adil Ayub,Niamatullah Kakar,Shah Muhammad Marri
Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2011; 2011: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Lupoid cutaneous leishmaniasis: a case report
Aida Khaled,Samia Goucha,Sonia Trabelsi,Rachida Zermani,Bécima Fazaa
Dermatology and Therapy. 2011; 1(2): 36
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Serum iron and ferritin levels in Behçet′s disease
Gönül, M., Gül, Ü., Çakmak, S.K., Soylu, S., Kiliç, A.
Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 2010; 76(1): 85
11 A family of Unna-Thost disease with one of them showing findings of epidermolytic keratoderma
Karadag, A.S., Simsek, G.G.
Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 2010; 76(1): 85


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article


Online since 15th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow