|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 110-113
Involvement of palms in leprosy: An unusual clinical manifestation
C Divyalakshmi, Naveen Kumar Kansal, Prashant Pranesh Joshi, Divya Singh
Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
|Date of Submission||01-Dec-2019|
|Date of Decision||26-Mar-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||15-Apr-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||19-Feb-2021|
Naveen Kumar Kansal
Room No. 016414, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh - 249 203, Uttarakhand
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Leprosy (Hansen's disease), a chronic granulomatous infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae, frequently affects the areas of skin, which have a relatively low temperature and/or are prone to trauma. Several zones of skin, for example, scalp, palms and soles, groins, genitalia, axillae, eyelids, and perineum, have usually been described as “immune” to lesions of leprosy. However, clinical, bacteriological, and pathologic evidence of involvement of these so-called “immune zones” has rarely been documented. Therefore, now many workers have proposed that these “immune zones” should be called “relatively immune,” rather than “absolute immune.” Hereby, we report a rare case of leprosy with palmar involvement.
Keywords: Absolute immune zones, leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, relative immune zones, Type 1 lepra reaction
|How to cite this article:|
Divyalakshmi C, Kansal NK, Joshi PP, Singh D. Involvement of palms in leprosy: An unusual clinical manifestation. Clin Dermatol Rev 2021;5:110-3
| Introduction|| |
Leprosy (Hansen's disease) is a chronic infection caused by acid-fast bacillus Mycobacterium leprae, with a high incidence of reactional states known as “lepra reactions” and considerable mutilating potential. The lepra bacillus is known to have an affliction of areas with relatively low temperature, for example, the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes, and testes. However, certain sites of skin such as the scalp, palms and soles, groins, genitalia, eyelids, axillae, and perineum have been usually described as “immune” to lesions of leprosy. Hereby, we report a patient of leprosy with palmar involvement.
| Case Report|| |
A 16-year-old male presented with multiple, hypopigmented, hypoesthetic lesions on the abdomen, face, and extremities for the past 2 years. Initially, the lesions appeared on the right leg, which was followed by the involvement of other sites. There were no systemic complaints. The treatment history was significant for the incomplete treatment of leprosy (WHO multibacillary multidrug therapy [MB MDT] for 10 months) and then discontinued. Cutaneous examination revealed multiple, hypopigmented, atrophic, scaly, ichthyotic plaques on the abdomen, arms, forearms [Figure 1], legs, and face. Well-defined plaques with erythematous border were also seen extending from the lateral border of the wrists onto the palmar surface with flattening of the hypothenar eminence. A single, round trophic ulcer with the callused border was seen in the right palm [Figure 2]. There were reduced sensations of temperature, touch, and pain over all the plaques. Examination of the peripheral nerves revealed thickening of the greater auricular, ulnar, radial cutaneous, and common peroneal nerves bilaterally. A clinical diagnosis of borderline tuberculoid (BT) leprosy was considered. Complete blood counts, liver and renal function tests, hepatitis B and C serology, HIV ELISA, urine examination, and chest X-ray revealed no abnormality. Slit-skin smear for lepra bacilli was negative. A skin biopsy for pathological examination from a lesion at the left forearm demonstrated periappendageal, well-formed, epithelioid cell granulomas along with lymphocytic infiltrate and Langhans giant cells in the mid and deeper dermis. Mild perivascular inflammation was also present in the upper dermis [Figure 3] and [Figure 4]. The Wade–Fite stain was found to be negative. The clinicopathologic features were consistent with a diagnosis of BT leprosy. The patient was counseled about the significance of regular leprosy treatment and started on WHO MB MDT for the recommended duration of 1 year.
|Figure 1: Atrophic, scaly, ichthyotic plaque on the extensor aspect of the upper extremity|
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|Figure 2: Well.defined plaque with the erythematous border on the right palm. A single, round trophic ulcer with a callused border is also present|
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|Figure 3: Skin biopsy showing unremarkable epidermis, with mid and deeper dermis having periappendageal epithelioid granulomas. Mild perivascular inflammation present in the upper dermis (H and E, ×10)|
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|Figure 4: Well-formed epithelioid cell granulomas along with lymphocytic infiltrate and Langhans giant cells in the mid and deeper dermis (H and E, ×40)|
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| Discussion|| |
Leprosy (Hansen's disease) predominantly affects the skin and peripheral nerves as the lepra bacillus (M. leprae) prefers a relatively cooler temperature (about <37°C). Due to this reason, leprosy lesions are commonly seen over the face, knees, elbows, gluteal region, dorsal aspects of the extremities, and trunk. However, many areas in skin, for example., axilla, eyelids, genitalia, groins, and scalp, are known to be rarely affected by the disease. These areas have been termed the “immune zones.” The involvement of palms and soles is also rare in leprosy. Palms and soles are relatively cooler than the rest of the body, have a rich nerve supply, and are also more prone to trauma. These factors should have made them more prone to the lesions of leprosy. However, palms and soles are distinct from other areas of the skin in the following ways: first, the palmoplantar epidermal thickness, approximately 1.5 mm, is thicker than that of other superficial skin areas and hence comparatively warmer; and second, there is a significant amount of fibrofatty tissue in the palms and soles, which ensures proper insulation and hence a high nerve bed temperature., As the nerve bed temperature of the palmoplantar region is more than that of other superficial skin regions, this is considered to be the reason why palmoplantar localization of M. leprae is quite less likely.,,
A detailed literature search, however, revealed only a few cases of palmoplantar involvement by leprosy [briefly reviewed in [Table 1]].,,,,,,,,,,,, Palmoplantar involvement in leprosy is approximately 3.6%–12.2%, with palmar involvement more than the plantar involvement. It has also been noted that patients with Type 1 lepra reactions are more likely to show the involvement of palms and/or soles. Although the pathomechanism of this phenomenon is not known, it may be because those inapparent lesions are likely to become prominent and clinically more visible during the lepra reactions. In our case also, the palmar lesion was erythematous, indicating a Type 1 lepra reaction.
It is also worth considering to describe the involvement of other so-called “immune zones.” The involvement of the scalp is known to present as alopecia (termed “leprotic alopecia”), the involvement of the bald scalp, or as an extension of anesthesia from a neighboring lesion. Apparently normal skin of the scalp may also exhibit acid-fast bacilli in pathological sections or on slit-skin smear., The involvement of scrotum has been seen in indeterminate and tuberculoid forms of leprosy. A single, well-defined anesthetic plaque has been reported on the scrotum, preputial skin, and over the penoscrotal fold in tuberculoid leprosy.,,, Leprosy lesions over the genitalia have also been reported in histoid leprosy. The involvement of groins, axillae, perineum, eyelids, the midline of the back, and a transverse band of skin on the lumbosacral area has been occasionally seen by many workers., In fact, no skin area is probably immune to M. leprae, as many studies have documented bacterial and pathological evidence of the disease process even in the clinically uninvolved skin. Bedi et al. studied the skin biopsies of clinically inapparent skin of the scalp, axillae, and groins in twenty lepromatous leprosy patients and found pathological findings in 25% of their patients. Therefore, it is now considered that these areas of skin should be termed as “relative immune” rather than “absolute immune” zones of leprosy.,
| Conclusion|| |
Our index case emphasizes the fact that a protean disease like leprosy can affect any site of the body, including clinically normal areas, and therefore, the term “relative immune zone” is more appropriate and preferable to “absolute immune zone.”
Declaration of patient consent
The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient has given his consent for his images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patient understands that his name and initials will not be published, and due efforts will be made to conceal identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]