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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 85  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 87-88

Authors' reply

Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication05-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Vinod K Sharma
Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijdvl.IJDVL_843_18

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How to cite this article:
Gupta V, Sharma VK. Authors' reply. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2019;85:87-8

How to cite this URL:
Gupta V, Sharma VK. Authors' reply. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Jan 20];85:87-8. Available from:


We thank the authors for their interest in our article on the controversies surrounding the nosology of ashy dermatosis, lichen planus pigmentosus and pigmented cosmetic dermatitis.[1] These entities share several clinical and histopathological features, and their nomenclature has been debated endlessly.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] The focus, so far, has been more on highlighting the subtle differences between them, instead of finding answers to the more meaningful questions such as their etiopathogenesis, natural course and effective treatment options. Lack of consensus on the nomenclature of these poorly understood disorders has only hindered research in this field. We prefer “lumping” to “splitting” these remarkably similar entities to facilitate communication among dermatologists and researchers, and think of them as a clinical reaction pattern with several poorly understood triggers. Although the authors largely concur with our unifying idea, they differ on the choice of the umbrella term and favor “acquired dermal macular hyperpigmentation of varied etiology.” We would like to point out that our objective was not to propose another term, but rather to question the need for different terms for what appears to be spectral manifestations of a single disease process. We simply reiterated the term (“macular pigmentation of uncertain etiology”) which was already in existence to avoid further confusion.[4] Recently, a global consensus statement on the terminology of these conditions has been released which states that lichen planus pigmentosus, ashy dermatosis and erythema dyschromicum perstans are in the spectrum of acquired macular pigmentation of uncertain etiology.[8]

The proposed name “acquired dermal macular hyperpigmentation of varied etiology” by the authors is a good descriptive term, especially as it emphasizes the dermal location of the pigment. However, we feel that the current knowledge regarding the etio-pathogenesis of these conditions is not sufficient to justify the phrase 'of varied etiology' in the name. Some of the ‘etiologies’ such as hepatitis C infection are probably just an association,[9] while the role of hormonal factors has been speculated owing to the frequent occurrence of lichen planus pigmentosus in perimenopausal women.[10] Although photosensitizers such as amla oil and mustard oil have often been implicated as causative factors, there is no conclusive evidence to support this hypothesis.[11] In fact, the global consensus forum concluded “these conditions are unlikely to be due to a particular oil applied on the skin or a particular dietary ingredient” because of the diverse cultural practices in different regions where these diseases occur.[8] We have previously reported patch test positivity in about one-third of our patients with lichen planus pigmentosus on face.[12] Similar results have been reported by others as well, raising the possibility of certain contact allergens triggering the disease in a subset of patients.[5],[13] However, the etiology remains largely unknown in the vast majority of patients and mandates further research. Indeed, the phrase “of uncertain etiology” may serve as a reminder of the uncertain aspects of this enigmatic group of pigmentary dermatoses and give a fresh impetus to our efforts in identifying their cause.

The authors further contend that entities such as fixed drug eruptions, melasma, ochronosis, macular amyloidosis, drug-induced and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, nevus of Ota and other dermal melanocytoses could also be encompassed in the term acquired macular pigmentation of uncertain etiology. However, etiology, and even pathogenesis, of several of these conditions is no longer uncertain; for example, drug eruptions (T-cell-mediated delayed hypersensitivity to drug hapten),[14] exogenous ochronosis (long-term hydroquinone use or related products),[15] macular amyloidosis (constant friction)[16] and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (sequelae of an inflammatory dermatosis). In fact, it is suggested to exclude hyperpigmented macules with a definite etiology (such as drug eruption, postinflammatory) from this rubric.[8]

Lastly, we feel that the “name” itself may not be so relevant as long as a consensus is reached, and its connotations are understood clearly by the researchers worldwide. We hope that this debate on the nomenclature ends soon, and the focus is shifted to furthering meaningful research that can translate into results for our patients suffering from this distressing condition. The nomenclature can be changed as new information comes to light.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Gupta V, Sharma VK. Ashy dermatosis, lichen planus pigmentosus and pigmented cosmetic dermatitis: Are we splitting the hair? Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2018;84:470-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Ghosh A, Coondoo A. Lichen planus pigmentosus: The controversial consensus. Indian J Dermatol 2016;61:482-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
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Zaynoun S, Rubeiz N, Kibbi AG. Ashy dermatoses – A critical review of the literature and a proposed simplified clinical classification. Int J Dermatol 2008;47:542-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Chandran V, Kumarasinghe SP. Macular pigmentation of uncertain aetiology revisited: Two case reports and a proposed algorithm for clinical classification. Australas J Dermatol 2017;58:45-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bhutani LK. Pigmented contact dermatitis vs. lichen planus pigmentosus. Int J Dermatol 1977;16:860-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bhutani LK. Ashy dermatosis or lichen planus pigmentosus: What is in a name? Arch Dermatol 1986;122:133.  Back to cited text no. 6
Nakayama H. Authors' reply: Pigmented contact dermatitis vs. lichen planus pigmentosus. Int J Dermatol 1977;16:861-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
Kumarasinghe SP, Pandya A, Chandran V, Rodrigues M, Dlova NC, Kang HY, et al. Aglobal consensus statement on ashy dermatosis, erythema dyschromicum perstans, lichen planus pigmentosus, idiopathic eruptive macular pigmentationand Riehl's melanosis. Int J Dermatol 2018; doi: 10.1111/ijd.14189. [Epub ahead of print].  Back to cited text no. 8
Al-Mutairi N, El-Khalawany M. Clinicopathological characteristics of lichen planus pigmentosus and its response to tacrolimus ointment: An open label, non-randomized, prospective study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2010;24:535-40.  Back to cited text no. 9
Robles-Méndez JC, Rizo-Frías P, Herz-Ruelas ME, Pandya AG, Ocampo Candiani J. Lichen planus pigmentosus and its variants: Review and update. Int J Dermatol 2018;57:505-14.  Back to cited text no. 10
Kanwar AJ, Dogra S, Handa S, Parsad D, Radotra BD. A study of 124 Indian patients with lichen planus pigmentosus. Clin Exp Dermatol 2003;28:481-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sharma VK, Gupta V, Pahadiya P, Vedi KK, Arava S, Ramam M, et al. Dermoscopy and patch testing in patients with lichen planus pigmentosus on face: A cross-sectional observational study in fifty Indian patients. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2017;83:656-62.  Back to cited text no. 12
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Tienthavorn T, Tresukosol P, Sudtikoonaseth P. Patch testing and histopathology in Thai patients with hyperpigmentation due to erythema dyschromicum perstans, lichen planus pigmentosus, and pigmented contact dermatitis. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 2014;32:185-92.  Back to cited text no. 13
Posadas SJ, Pichler WJ. Delayed drug hypersensitivity reactions-new concepts. Clin Exp Allergy 2007;37:989-99.  Back to cited text no. 14
Levin CY, Maibach H. Exogenous ochronosis. An update on clinical features, causative agents and treatment options. Am J Clin Dermatol 2001;2:213-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
Siragusa M, Ferri R, Cavallari V, Schepis C. Friction melanosis, friction amyloidosis, macular amyloidosis, towel melanosis: Many names for the same clinical entity. Eur J Dermatol 2001;11:545-8.  Back to cited text no. 16


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