Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.

Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Print friendly version

Pyoderma gangrenosum

Información en español

See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is pyoderma gangrenosum?

How might pyoderma gangrenosum be treated?

What is pyoderma gangrenosum?

Pyoderma gangrenosum is a rare, destructive inflammatory skin disease of which a painful nodule or pustule breaks down to form a progressively enlarging ulcer. Lesions may occur either in the absence of any apparent underlying disorder or in association with other diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, polyarthritis (an inflammation of several joints together), gammopathy, and other conditions [1]. Pyoderma gangrenosum belongs to a group of skin diseases in which a common cellular denominator is the neutrophil. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell or leukocyte which form an early line of defense against bacterial infections.  Each year in the United States, pyoderma gangrenosum occurs in about 1 person per 100.000 people.[2]
Last updated: 4/26/2011

How might pyoderma gangrenosum be treated?

Although antibiotics are often prescribed prior to having a correct diagnosis (and may be continued if there is a secondary infection or surrounding cellulitis), antibiotics are generally not helpful for treating uncomplicated cases of pyoderma gangrenosum (PG).[3] The best documented treatments for PG are systemic corticosteroids and cyclosporin A.[4] Smaller ulcers may be treated with strong topical steroid creams, steroid injections, special dressings, oral anti-inflammatory antibiotics, and/or other therapies. More severe PG typically requires immunosuppressive therapy (used to decrease the body's immune responses).[3] Combinations of steroids with cytotoxic drugs may be used in resistant cases. There has reportedly been rapid improvement of PG with use of anti-tumor necrosis alpha therapy (such as infliximab), which is also used to treat Crohn's disease and other conditions. Skin transplants and/or the application of bioengineered skin is useful in selected cases as a complementary therapy to immunosuppressive treatment. The use of modern wound dressings is helpful to minimize pain and the risk of secondary infections.[4] Treatment for PG generally does not involve surgery because it can result in enlargement of the ulcer; however, necrotic tissue (dying or dead tissue) should be gently removed.[3]

More detailed information about the treatment of pyoderma gangrenosum is available on eMedicine's Web site and can be viewed by clicking here.
Last updated: 3/5/2012

References
  1. Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 6th ed.. New York: McGraw Hill; 2003;
  2. Jackson JM, Callen JP. Pyoderma Gangrenosum. eMedicine. March 23, 2010; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1123821-overview. Accessed 4/26/2011.
  3. Pyoderma gangrenosum. DermNet NZ. March 3, 2012; http://www.dermnet.org.nz/reactions/pyoderma-gangrenosum.html. Accessed 3/5/2012.
  4. Pyoderma gangrenosum. Orphanet. April 2007; http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?lng=EN&Expert=48104. Accessed 3/5/2012.


See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.